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Dagenham school reunion is tribute to old pal Dudley Moore

PUBLISHED: 15:49 21 July 2011

The group look back at records from Dagenham County High

The group look back at records from Dagenham County High

Archant

Fans of Dudley Moore staged a school reunion in Dagenham in honour of the comic legend.

Jazz singer Norma Winstone, 69, told how she fancied the diminutive 5ft 2in comedian she watched at the piano at their old school in Parsloes Avenue, Dagenham, in the Fifties.

Another former pupil Vera Grigg, 79, revealed his music ability was soon spotted as he was picked to play the piano at a school assembly three weeks into his first year at Dagenham County High – now Sydney Russell School.

Vera, a retired Ofsted inspector, said: “It was so obvious he was an incredibly gifted musician.

“It was his musicality that was immediately recognised.”

Friend Bob Miller, 63, recalled how the selfless actor returned to Dagenham to play for pensioners each year after he moved to LA to pursue his movie career.

Mr Miller remembered the comedian gave him a £300 cheque when he humorously ticked Dudley off for failing to pay his £3 membership fee at a school reunion in the Eighties.

The retired police officer said: “He never forgot his roots. He was back from LA every year without anyone knowing.

“He got a cab to Dagenham and did a concert for disabled people and the elderly at Kingsley Hall. This was the sort of bloke he was.”

Norma, a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, admitted that she had a soft spot for the star.

She said: “I fancied him. He was really good looking. He had a really nice face, he had a great smile and he played the piano.

“He had a very individual style, it was very English.”

The former students shared memories before going through old Dagenham County High records at Valence House museum in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, on Friday.

Bob and friends then played cricket at May & Baker sports ground in Rainham Road South, Dagenham, to raise funds for research into the degenerative brain disorder Progressive Supranclear Palsy, which Dudley suffered from before his death in 2002.


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