A teacher from Laleham Gap School in Ramsgate not only mingled with the stars at the prestigious Olivier awards last Sunday – he also scooped one himself.
The ceremony, held at the Albert Hall, was hosted by comedian Jason Manford and attended by actors including Ian McKellan, Billie Piper, Tim Minchin and Glenda Jackson.
The awards are the biggest night in the theatre calendar and are presented annually by the Society of London Theatre.
Accolades were given to performers involved in West End productions as well as other non-commercial theatres such as the Royal National Theatre and the Barbican Centre.
But for the first time there was a presentation of honours for Unsung Heroes as part of the Be Inspired section, which recognise those who inspire others to perform.
Teacher Stuart Clements, who has taught pupils at Laleham for 18 years, said he was ‘truly shocked’ to be named as a winner.
Stuart works children with autistic spectrum and speech and language disorders. His dedication to involving them in performing arts was recognised with the accolade.
Stuart downplayed his role, saying to The Stage magazine “I’m just doing my job.”
The teacher attended the Red Carpet event at the Royal Albert Hall with his wife Donna. As invited guests they watched from a box and Stuart received his plaque from the President of the Society of London Theatres.
Stuart is used to gracing the stages of local theatres such as the Winter Gardens and at Laleham, but said to be recognised nationally at the Albert Hall was another level.
He said: “It was a truly amazing experience, something I’ll never forget and a real honour.
“When I first found out I was one the Be Inspired Champions, I was unaware just how it would all unfold. Once over the initial shock and talk of camera crews coming and filming a trailer for the Olivier website, it still didn’t finally sink in until the final breakdown of the day came through and we saw what was involved.
“My wife and I were to be pampered and groomed at a top London salon, got to stay in a ultra-luxury hotel, where the after show celebration would be held too, got chauffeured around London and taken to the Royal Albert Hall to walk the red carpet and receive my award.
“It was an unforgettable experience. The red carpet was great, an amazing time, really quite overwhelming. The show itself was phenomenal as you would have seen on ITV. It was a real surprise for them to show an edited version of our videos during the award ceremony.
“It is just such a lovely thing, to be recognised for simply doing your job.”
Head teacher at Laleham Les Milton said: “I know how dedicated the teachers are here at Laleham and the great job they do here day in day out because I see it. It is lovely to see Stuart getting the recognition he deserves.”
The event was screened on ITV on April 11 and is available on ITV Player.