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  • Did you go to school in Essex with one of these celebrities? – Echo

 January 30

by Carolina

Some of the people you’ve gone to school with may still be living on the same street, some might even be the other side of the world – but perhaps you could have been sitting next to a future film star or sporting icon. 

Essex has raised more than its fair share of famous faces. Here are some of the schools they attended in and around Southend: 

Mark Foster

Echo: Mark Foster carrying the Olympic flame through Southend last week

One of Southend’s most loved school boys Mark Foster was born and raised in the area – he attended Southend High School for Boys in the 80s.

The competitive swimmer  represented Great Britain in the Olympics and world championships, and swam for England in the Commonwealth Games.

He competed primarily in butterfly and freestyle at 50 metres.

In 2012 the swimmer ran through Southend with the Olympic torch ahead of the games.

Rachel Riley


(Peter Powell/PA)

Television presenter and mathematician Rachel Riley was born in Rochford and raised in Thorpe Bay.

She attended Southend High School for Girls where she obtained four A’s at A-Levels and went on to study maths at Oxford University. 

Riley’s TV debut came in 2009 when she joined the iconic show Countdown as a co-host at just 22-years-old. 

She has also co-presented  8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and The Gadget Show. In 2013 she appeared in the eleventh series of Strictly Come Dancing where she met her husband Pasha Kovalev.

Dame Helen Mirren


National treasure Dame Helen Mirren DBE is another star to have been educated in Southend and was brought up in Leigh. 

Mirren attended Hamlet Court Primary School in Westcliff-on-Sea, where she had the lead role in a school production of Hansel and Gretel.

In the 50s she attended St Bernard’s High School for Girls in Southend-on-Sea, where she also acted in several school productions.

From there she went to acting school and the National Youth Theatre before launching her stellar career. 

The award-winning actress is one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting in America. 

Some of her most outstanding roles include Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw in Hobbs and Shaw as well as Chris Harper in the 2003 hit Calendar Girls. 

Jack Monroe


(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Jack Monroe is a journalist, activist and food writer she is well known for her blod ‘A Girl Called Jack’ which has been renamed ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’. 

She was born and raised in Southend where she attended West Cliff High School for Girls. 

After leaving home she worked in a chip shop, before taking a job as a call handler for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

However, once she had her child she became unable to work around childcare responsibilities. In 2011 she left the fire service and spent the next 18 months on benefits nad looking for work. 

This transition to hardship inspired her blog where she would share cheap recipes for a single parent and child aiming to provide family meals for less than £10 per week. 

She recently blasted the government over their ‘meagre scraps’ free school meals provisions. 

Nathalie Emmanuel


(Ian West/PA)

Actress and model Nathalie Emmanuel also attended West Cliff High School for Girls where she was a student in the noughties.

In 2006, she began her on-screen career by starring as Sasha Valentine in soap opera Hollyoaks. 

She gained international recognition for her role as Missandei in Game of Thrones between 2013 and 2019.

She has also had roles in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and its sequel Maze Runner: The Death Cure, and in the Fast and Furious films Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, and F9.

Do you remember any of these famous faces at your school? Let us know in the comments.

Original posted at www.echo-news.co.uk

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