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Belsize Park actress Helena Bonham Carter reminisces about Hampstead schooldays

PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:58 31 January 2015

Actress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with headteacher Helen Pike. Picture: Polly Hancock

Actress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with headteacher Helen Pike. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Actress Helena Bonham Carter returned to her old school to officially open its new building and reminisce about her time as a pupil.

Pupils and guests watch the official opening by Helena Bonham Carter from the central landings. Picture: Polly HancockPupils and guests watch the official opening by Helena Bonham Carter from the central landings. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Hollywood star, of Belsize Park, led a glamorous evening of entertainment last Wednesday showing off the £30million glass-fronted extension at the all-girls South Hampstead High School (SHHS), in Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.

In a speech to pupils, teachers and guests - including her old headteacher Averil Burgess - she remembered that when she was at the school, classes used to be arranged alphabetically.

Consequently, many of her best friends have surnames beginning with the letter ‘b’.

The 48-year-old actress also provided pupils with words of wisdom, advising them that their female friendships are the most important they will ever make.

Actress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with her old headteacher Averil Bugess headteacher, who ruled the school from 1975 until 1993. Picture: Polly HancockActress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with her old headteacher Averil Bugess headteacher, who ruled the school from 1975 until 1993. Picture: Polly Hancock

Headteacher Helen Pike said: “The opening exceeded expectations and I have never seen the girls more excited.

“Helena was generous, witty and fun. We are so proud that she is an old girl of SHHS and it was perfect that she opened the school for us.”

Pupils showcased what they learn in the classroom by putting on a sumptuous Roman banquet of fake peacock, a colourful psychological taste test, and dance performances, before a climatic finale concert.

The night was one of two official opening ceremonies held last week, with a separate evening for parents held on Thursday.

Pupils first moved into the new school building in October last year following two-and-a-half years of construction works.

It was designed by the architects behind the London Olympic velodrome.

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