Bishop’s Waltham welcomes Britain’s Got Talent judge

Sean Beech with his son, James, nine, at home with his books and plasticine figures.

Picture: Habibur Rahman (171461-895)

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ACTRESS, theatre star and Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has gone back to her roots to promote her new autobiography.

It’s not every day that celebrities visit the town of Bishop’s Waltham but yesterday Amanda made a return to her home.

FAMILIAR FACES Amanda Holden is reunited with her baby-sitter Mary Murphy at her book signing. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133062- 9190)

FAMILIAR FACES Amanda Holden is reunited with her baby-sitter Mary Murphy at her book signing. Picture: Malcolm Wells (133062- 9190)

Best known for her role as the longest-standing judge on the ITV programme, Amanda has had a career spanning 20 years, including playing Mia Bevan in Cutting It, Sarah Trevanion in Wild at Heart and Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical.

Yesterday, she was signing copies of her new autobiography, No Holding Back, which promises to tell all about her showbiz career.

As Bishop’s Waltham holds such a special place in Amanda’s heart, the signing was held in the grocers where she used to work as a teenager, Hylands Stores, on the High Street.

Scores of people packed out the shop and queued right round to the back of the store to get their books signed.

Store owner Phil Channon said: ‘I didn’t know what to expect when my son decided to organise the event, but I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.’

The moment she entered the fruit and veg shop, Amanda realised it had hardly changed.

She said: ‘It’s virtually the same as it was. As soon as I heard I’d be doing book signings I said straight away that I needed to go back to my village.

‘I knew there wasn’t a book shop here so I said I would go to Hylands as it’s where I had my Saturday job as a teenager.’

For three years, she worked behind the till selling fruit and veg.

During the signing, Amanda met with a number of people she knew from growing up in the area.

One visitor was Mary Murphy, who used to baby-sit Amanda when she was a toddler.

‘As a friend to the family, I helped them out,’ said Mary.

‘It’s wonderful to see her where she is now, and I’m so proud of her.’

Another was Lil Mogg who also worked at Hylands.

Lil, 41, of The Avenue, said: ‘I used to work with her in the store. It’s really lovely to see her come back here.’

Editor of No Holding Back, Carly Cook, said: ‘Amanda is a very good writer, and this book is very much her chance to tell her story.’

Amanda added: ‘It’s been a really lovely day and it’s been so amazing seeing the people I went to school with.

‘Writing the book was torturous, but I’m so proud of it.’