Dinnerladies star Sue Devaney remembered her friend Victoria Wood when she told school leavers at Greenbank Preparatory School ‘it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’.
The Rochdale-born comedian and musical theatre star was the special guest at independent preparatory school’s annual speech day, this year held in Screen 8 at the Parrswood cinema complex.
Sue, who toured the world in the musical Mamma Mia, playing Rosie made famous by Julie Walters, and has just finished a run as Gracie Fields in a musical biography of the Lancashire lass, told the children about her chats with one of the all time greats of her profession Victoria Wood.
“Vic would say to me, it’s not all about education and qualifications, perhaps she was comforting me because unlike you or indeed her good self, I didn’t really have any, but it’s about enthusiasm, energy and the courage to do what you want to do. It was the best advice I ever had.”
Sue, who might be best known for her three seasons in Casualty, remembered her own school days and the inspirational music and drama teachers who spotted her talent and allowed it to flourish.
“My music teacher could see I wasn’t that good at Maths or Science and she just used to lock me in the Music Room for the afternoon and say “there you go, get on with it.”
She added that despite the great encouragement she had received her own school days were very different to those of the children at Greenbank “Watching the film on the screen behind me of all your achievements, it really wanted to cry. It’s been such a wonderful time in your lives and though secondary school is a big challenge, I can assure it will be just as wonderful. This ceremony has been like the Oscars, whereas we got an apple and on our last day at school and everyone came out to throw eggs and flour at us. Still it was Rochdale.”
Speaking about the recent sad loss of her friend Victoria Wood and Caroline Ahearn, with whom she mixed socially, she said: “They are two such wonderful women writers, who maybe because they were women and were essentially comediennes didn’t really receive the literary acclaim they should have enjoyed in their own lives.
“Their writing wasn’t just funny, it was profound and moving and they are going to be greatly missed. Still who else but Vic could fill the Albert Hall ten nights running.”
Greenbank Preparatory School Headmistress Janet Lowe said: “It was a real treat for young and old alike to listen to Sue and her memories of her own childhood and fabulous career. Like many in her profession she epitomises that ‘can do, will do’ spirit we want our children to leave Greenbank with.”