Joanna Lumley pays tribute to "Derry Lama" Richard Moore

Actor Joanna Lumley believes integrated schooling is essential if progress is to be made in Northern Ireland. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Joanna Lumley has described Children in Crossfire director Richard Moore as the "Derry Lama."

The Ab Fab star was in Derry yesterday to address the charity's 20th anniversary conference along with the Dalai Lama.

A star of stage and screen, Ms Lumley has a string of television hits including The New Avengers and Absolutely Fabulous. In more recent years, she has also become well known for her work as a human rights’ activist.

In an interview with The Irish News, the star said she agreed to come to Derry after meeting Children in Crossfire founder, Mr Moore in London earlier this year.

“He’s exceptional. I love it even today listening with the Dalai Lama patting his hand and saying ‘This is my hero, my hero’ and that’s what I knew.

“There’s something quite extraordinary about Richard’s story, no matter how often it’s told. To be shot as a ten-year-old and to lose your sight because of that and yet to feel no anger. The first time he realised that somebody understood what he felt was when he heard the Dalai Lama speaking.”

Describing Mr Moore as “the Derry Lama,” Ms Lumley said he showed no bitterness, anger or resentment and was always good humoured.

She revealed strong and long-standing ties with Ireland, with relatives living in County Donegal and ancestors buried in Derry’s St Columb’s Church of Ireland Cathedral graveyard.

Joanna Lumley speaking with the Irish News during her visit to Derry for the Children in Crossfire conference. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 12-9-17.

The actor said she would like to have a greater involvement in Children in Crossfire because of its work with children.

She believed that it was through such work that change could come about, particularly in Northern Ireland. Through her work on television documentaries, Ms Lumley said she had met billionaires, “untouchables in India” and people who did not even have a bed in Africa and found that people were all essentially the same.

“To do with Ireland and Northern Ireland, I’ve always supported integrated schooling. I was over here with Mo Mowlam (former NI secretary) a long time ago and it’s back to the young again. If we can start at school level, with integrated schooling that would be a beginning,” she said.

Ms Lumley said she was always opposed to borders no matter where they were. She said people in Ireland should simply refuse to accept any EU-UK border when Brexit takes place in 2019.

“Say there’s not going to be a border; now let’s think about what we do rather than saying oh we’re going to put a border up because of rules made up by humankind. All rules made up by humankind can be broken or adapted so don’t let’s say ‘oh those are EU rules because they have 27 countries that we have to persuade.’ So let’s persuade them because this is lunacy; this is completely crazy to set up a border.”

She said everyone needed to “grow up” when it came to Brexit.

“This is madness, all these little, poxy fights. It can’t be right; it cannot be right,” she said.

Referring to herlong and wide-ranging acting career, Ms Lumley said two of the biggest highlights were as Purdy in The New Avengers and as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous. She said she had many favourite moments, often from her career as a stage actress. However, it was her stand-out role as the “grotesque, ghastly,” Patsy that she enjoyed most.

“I think I loved making people laugh so I think Patsy would really be quite high on the list.”

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