Sheffield Telegraph, 12 April 2002,

Starring Role Down on the Farm

After being the centre of attention at the Crucible for four weeks, Kenneth Branagh found a new audience at Whirlow Hall Farm on Monday.

On this occasion his performance delighted children and staff at the farm charity, which gives youngsters a taste of rural life.

"He was absolutely wonderful," said chief executive David Heugh. "He was so pleasant and stayed for nearly one-and-a-half hours. He showed genuine interest. He had no idea that there was this kind of children's charity on a working farm."

One of his roles was to perform the formal opening of "Sarah's Way", a children's viewing area in the lambing unit named after Sarah Grunwerg, who died aged nine of a brain tumour two years ago and loved visiting Whirlow.

Kenneth Branagh, whose performance as Richard III ended on Wednesday, was invited by the farm by estate agent Linda Crapper. She co-chairs the farm's events committee and had organised his temporary accommodation in a near by house in Whirlow during his appearances at the Crucible.

He met schoolschildren from Norfolk Park, including pupils from Talbort Special School. "He toured the whole farm and was wonderful with the children," said David. "We were all totally bowled over." The star's one regret was that he had not discovered the farm earlier. "He said he could have come here for eggs everyday. But we did send him home with some fresh Whirlow eggs."

Photo: Kenneth Branagh ignores the old adage about never working with children and animals during his visit to Whirlow Farm.

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