Star shines on Masham farm visit

HOLLYWOOD came to Masham when film star Thandie Newton visited the Learning To Listen School, which is based on a working farm at Ilton. The actress, who won a BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award for the 2004 film Crash and appeared alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II and Will Smith in The Pusuit of Happyness, spent the day with staff and pupils after reading about the equestrian school in a national newspaper.

She enjoyed chatting with Learning To Listen's headteachers, husband-and-wife team Rob Middleton and Sarah Kreutzer, and had fun with the youngsters, who have all been exluded from mainstream education.

"Thandie was simply lovely," said Sarah. "Nothing seemed too much trouble. She had a go at muck-spreading and creosoting, and then had lunch with us all. The kids thought it was fabulous when Thandie watched Mission Impossible with us and recalled all the funny things that happened when it was being filmed."

Thandie, mother to daughter Ripley and son Nico, is a keen supporter of children's projects and thoroughly enjoyed her day down on the farm. "Sarah Kreutzer and her team are doing incredible work," she said. "I support them wholeheartedly. Spending the day with the kids and talking to them was an inspiration."