2019: Dame Judi Dench CH DBE FRSA

Dame Judi Dench

Photo credit – Robert J Wilson.  

Dame Judi Dench CH DBE FRSA is possibly the most significant British theatre, film and television actress working today.  She made her professional debut in 1957 at the Old Vic and has played Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Queen Elizabeth I, as well as numerous television and film roles in a career spanning over 60 years.   In 1998 Dame Judi won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Shakespeare in Love’; however, she is perhaps best known worldwide for her 20 year role as M in the James Bond movies starting with GoldenEye (1995), until Spectre (2015).

Dame Judi’s other competitive awards include six British Academy Film Awards, four BAFTA TV Awards, seven Olivier Awards two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award.  She also received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2001, and the Special Olivier Award in 2004.  In June 2011 she received a Fellowship from the British Film Institute (BFI).   

Dame Judi lives just seven miles outside Mole Valley, in Outwood, Surrey, and has a passion for trees and the Surrey landscape. 

2018: Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman’s first novel Growing Up Twice was a WHS Fresh Talent Winner. Since then, Rowan has written 15 novels, including The Memory Book which was a Sunday Times bestseller. It was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club and awarded Love Reading Novel of the Year, as voted for by readers. Her latest novel, The Summer of Impossible Things, is a Zoe Ball TV Book Club selection.

Rowan lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire, juggling writing novels with raising her family. She really wishes someone would invent time travel.

You can find out more about Rowan at or follow her on Facebook or Twitter

2015 – 2017: Sherree Valentine Daines

Sheree Valentine-Daines

Sheree Valentine Daines

Sherree Valentine Daines is a local artist who has had exhibitions at Tate Britain, the Barbican and the Lord’s Museum.

Described as the face of modern British Impressionism, she is one of the nation’s most illustrious and distinguished artists as she creates masterly evocations of some of the most beautiful elements of British life.

Sherree Valentine Daines has also painted the great and the good of the worlds of media, sport and entertainment, such as Sir Michael Parkinson, Sebastian Coe, Jonny Wilkinson and Joanna Lumley.

Her awards are: The Young Artist of the Year from the Royal Portrait Society, The Laing Landscape and Seascape Competition Winner and The Fine Art Trade Guild Award for the UK’s Leading Impressionist Artist.

2014: Natalie Coyle

Natalie Coyle

Natalie Coyle

Natalie is a London-based, classically trained Soprano who, at the beginning of 2013, joined Classic BRIT Award winners BLAKE on their UK tour and has since performed solo four times at Wembley Stadium to sold-out crowds of over 85,000 and live on both Sky Sports 1 and the BBC.

Natalie was invited to perform on the ‘bandstand’ at the Chelsea Flower Show to a packed audience and at the Cystic Fibrosis charity’s 50th Anniversary Gala and the Variety Gastro evening fundraiser at the Dorchester. As well as being involved with several charities, including the Order of Malta Volunteers, the British Heart Foundation, The Children’s Trust, Variety (The Children’s Charity), Marie Curie Cancer Care and Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, Natalie is a patron for Breathe Arts Health Research, a partner to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals.

2012 – 2013: Virginia McKenna OBE

Virginia McKenna

Virginia McKenna

Virginia McKenna OBE, a long-term resident of Mole Valley, has appeared in an incredible number of roles of which we give only a brief selection: in film ‘Born Free’, ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’ and ‘A Town Like Alice’; on TV ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘The Camomile Lawn’, ‘The Deep Blue Sea’, and ‘Whistleblower’, and in the theatre ‘The King and I’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Beggar’s Opera’.

She is also an author and her memoirs The Life in my Years have been published by Oberon Books. She is the Founder Trustee of the Born Free Foundation, an animal welfare an conservation charity and was awarded an OBE in 2004 for her work in the arts and animal welfare.

2011: Nicholas Owen

Nicholas Owen

Nicholas Owen

Nicholas Owen is a journalist, BBC TV News Presenter and gifted speaker in his own right.

Nicholas began his career here in Surrey, on the Surrey Mirror before moving to Fleet Street, then ITN, followed by the BBC. Between 1994 and 2000 he was ITN’s Royal Correspondent, covering the death and funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

He is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.

2010: Anita Harris

Anita Harris

Anita Harris

Anita is an English actor, singer and entertainer. She was classically trained as a singer and then moved into the world of pop.

She has performed leading roles in a wide range of hit plays. These include My Cousin Rachel, Stepping Out, Bell Book, Candle and Ruth Rendell’s dark drama House of Stairs.

Films and plays include the classic farces Carry on Doctor and Follow That Camel. Anita is currently recording two new albums. She is also played the title role in the pilot of Verity Lake, a Victorian detective series.

2009: John Gordon Sinclair

John Sinclair

John Gordon Sinclair

John Gordon Sinclair rose to fame playing Gregory in the much loved film Gregory’s Girl. Since then he has worked extensively in films, television, radio and theatre, where he won an Olivier best actor award for his role in She Loves Me.

He starred in the Alan Ayckbourn play Absurd Person
Singular in London.

2008: John Bird

John Bird

John Bird

John Bird, English satirist, actor, comedian and local resident needs little introduction as he has been one-third of the television satire team Bremner, Bird and Fortune for the best part of the last decade.

Other television appearances include Not So Much a Programme More a Way of Life, Yes Prime Minister and One Foot in the Grave.

As a Mole Valley resident John has seen the Arts Alive Festival grow and develop into the success it is now.

2007: Louis de Bernières

Louisde Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernières is best known as the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

As the 2007 patron, Louis entertained Arts Alive audiences with a talk about his acclaimed novel, Birds Without Wings; and performed a programme of music and poetry.