MIRFIELD-born actor Sir Patrick Stewart honoured the memory of a former teacher who set him on the path to acting as he was knighted by the Queen.
Sir Patrick said English teacher Cecil Dormand had encouraged him to perform and cast him in his play with adults.
Without the belief of the man with whom the actor shared a celebratory lunch, he would never be where he was today.
The award-winning performer and devoted Huddersfield Town fan is best known for his sci-fi roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the superhero X-men blockbuster movies and said he was honoured to be in the company of other great actor knights.
Sir Patrick, 69, said of the knighthood: “It was an unlooked-for honour but as I grew up as a child, falling in love with the theatre and Shakespeare, my heroes were Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness.
“The knights of the theatre represented to me not only the pinnacle of the profession but the esteem in which the profession was held.
“And now to find myself, to my astonishment, in that company is the grandest thing that has professionally happened to me.”
The Queen is reported to be a fan of the star, who has enjoyed a 50-year career in movies, TV and the theatre, including 16 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He was born in Mirfield, the son of an army sergeant major, whom he later revealed subjected his mother to repeated bouts of violence.
He quit school at 15 to work as a cub reporter on the Dewsbury Reporter, but left the day the editor gave him an ultimatum: acting or journalism.
When asked what had sparked his interest in acting, Sir Patrick, the Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, replied: “When I leave here I will be going to a luncheon that has been arranged and sitting on my right will be a man called Cecil Dormand, who was my English teacher when I was a child.
“Although many people in my life and career have had great influence on me, without this one man, none of it would have happened.
“Because he was the one that put a copy of Shakespeare in my hand, he was the one who told me it was a play and not a dramatic poem, he was the one who said ‘now get up on your feet and perform, this is a play, it’s life’.
“He was the one who said when I was leaving the secondary modern ‘have you ever thought of doing this as a profession?’
“He put me in a play with adults, so I owe literally everything to this man.”