My Inspirational Teacher: by TV star and author David Walliams
As part of our My Inspirational Teacher series we talk to David Walliams, the British actor and star of hit TV shows including Little Britain. David has also written several highly successful children’s books.
Who was the teacher, or person, who really mattered in your life?
I was blessed with a few great teachers at Reigate Grammar School but I would say my English teacher George Paxton is the one that stands out the most. Mr Paxton taught me Shakespeare. In lessons he could be as funny as Eric Morecambe, being in his class was the definite highlight of my week. Most importantly of all he really encouraged me in my love of acting.
What did they say or do to make them so special?
Mr Paxton saw my passion and took a special interest in me and we would talk one on one. Perhaps he saw me as a kindred spirit. He gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of being an actor when I left school.
What was the moment you realised this person was influential to you?
When I wrote my autobiography 20 years later I realised I could remember his English classes in huge detail and what enormous fun they were. Every lesson we laughed as we learned.
Would you have been successful without this person’s encouragement?
Your experiences as a child do of course form you as an adult, and so I don’t think I would have had the confidence of pursuing such an unusual career without Mr Paxton’s interest and encouragement.
Did you stay in touch with them?
No I didn’t. I left school in 1989 before the internet had connected everybody for ever and so immediately lost touch.
Did you ever tell them what they meant to you?
No I didn’t. But doing this questionnaire has made me want to get back in touch with Mr Paxton and I have just asked my old school for his address. I plan to write him a letter today.
Who in the world today would you describe as inspirational?
You have two hands. One to help yourself. One to help others. Those who truly inspire me are those who devote their lives to helping others.
You can learn more about David’s children’s books at the World of Walliams website.