9 celebrities you probably didn’t realise from Herefordshire and the Wye Valley
16:07 06 February 2015
From international pop star Ellie Goulding to best-selling children’s author JK Rowling, famous actors to television presenters, Herefordshire and the Wye Valley has been home to a wealth of talent and famous faces
Top of the list is golden popstar Ellie Goulding who grew up in Lyonshall, went Lady Hawkins’ School in Kington and Hereford Sixth Form College. She came to the public’s attention in 2010 and since then has sold over 4 million albums, has numerous Brit Awards and famously played at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding reception in 2011.
J. K. Rowling
Author Joanne Rowling, who wrote the legendary Harry Potter books in case you didn’t know, moved to Church Cottage in Tutshill, near Chepstow when she was nine years old. Wyedean Comprehensive School followed, where it is said some of the teachers inspired the teachers of Hogwarts. Here she also met Sean Harris, to whom her second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is dedicated. It was Sean’s Ford Anglia that inspired Arthur Weasleys enchanted Flying Ford Anglia. She also immortalised the name Tutshill by naming a Quidditch team the Tutshill Tornadoes.
Most famous as one of the presenters of the television programme Top Gear, Richard Hammond lives in Weston-under-Penyard with his wife, two daughters, six dogs, four cats, eight horses, two goats, a flock of sheep, twenty or so ducks, twelve cars, four motorcycles and an unnecessarily large collection of chickens… and that was the last count! He is an ambassadors for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and vice-president of UK children’s brain injury charity the Children’s Trust, Tadworth.
Hereford-born actor Matt Milneis is perhaps best known for his role as Alfred the tall hapless footman who rejected poor Daisy in Downton Abbey series 3 and 4. He also played Andrew Easton in Steven Spielberg.’s film adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel War Horse.
One of the country’s top National Hunt jockeys who was perhaps more famous as the ex boyfriend of Zara Phillips with whom he had a relationship with for five years. He grew up in Herefordshire and presantly lives in Twyford, Pembridge. Last year he came close to fulfilling a childhood dream of winning the Grand National when he came a close second with Balthazar King. He is also an ambassador for the Hereford-based charity Little Princess Trust which provides real hair wigs to children suffering hair loss.
A familiar face, television presenter Kate Humble lives in Trellech in the Wye Valley, with her husband Ludo Graham and when she isn’t working on television runs courses in managing smallholdings and animal husbandry. Her television credits include Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Lambing Live.
John Challis, or as he is perhaps better known Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, lives at Wigmore Abbey which he and his wife saved from ruin in 2002. It would also become the location for many of the scenes for the Only Fools spin off The Green Green Grass which was partly filmed at the Abbey and local area. Since the move John has become a passionate supporter of the area, involving himself in many local projects.
Monty Don from Ivington is probably one of our best known gardening broadcasters, yet despite presenting numerous television shows including Gardener’s World he has had no formal training and still regards himself as an enthusiastic amateur.
You may not have heard of film director and puppeteer Frank Oz who was born in Hereford in 1944 but I bet you have heard of some of the characters he portrayed and gave his voice to, from Yoda in Star Wars to the Muppet character Miss Piggy. Or how about Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street? He may have only lived in Hereford for a short time which he can’t probably remember but we can still claim him as a son of the city.