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Monday, 7 February, 2000, 12:02 GMT
Withnail dusted off for charity

Paul McGann and Richard E Grant in Withnail and I


British film star Richard E Grant is to host a charity screening of his cult film Withnail and I to raise money for his former school in Swaziland.

The sold-out show in London's West End will be followed by an auction of memorabilia from the classic movie - which follows two out-of-work actors seeking solace in drink, drugs and the English countryside.


Grant was educated at Waterford in the 1970s
Among the items up for grabs will be the sweeping Harris tweed coat designed by Andrea Galer and worn by Grant in the 1987 film.

Looking ahead to the evening, the 42-year-old actor said: "It will be very nostalgic, and a great opportunity to say thankyou to the people that have supported this film and this charity down the years.

"I think it will be an absolute Camberwell Carrot bonanza of an evening," he added.

A star-studded crowd is expected to attend, including Grant's Withnail co-star Paul McGann and the film's writer and director Bruce Robinson.

The guests will then move on to a spectacular after-show party.


Madonna is a patron of the Swaziland school
All the money raised from the event will go to the Waterford School, which Richard E Grant attended in the seventies along with Nelson Mandela's daughters.

He describes it as an "extraordinary and visionary" school, which was founded in the 60s by an Englishman, as a direct response and protest to the apartheid regime in neighbouring South Africa.

There are now 52 nationalities at Waterford and in particular the actor praises its quest for individualism.

"I was the only one who wanted to be an actor, which in the early seventies in Swaziland was tantamount to saying you want to be an astronaut. It just was ridiculous, but the school encouraged and supported individualism."

Sixties throwback

The actor is now among the trustees of the Waterford school and decided the cult sixties character Withnail would be the perfect way to raise funds for the establishment.


Lord Attenborough heads the school's trustees
"As it was a school created in the 60s when the ideology of 'we can change the world' marked a generation prior to the onset of the 'me-for-me-and-my-money-only' zeitgeist, I thought it appropriate to haul that last-gasp-of-the-60s reprobate, Withnail, out of the bar for one last screening".

The appeal has attracted donations from the likes of Madonna, Phil Collins and David Bowie, and has already raised in the region of 60,000.

This money will enable more young people to attend the school and study for their International Baccalaureate, which qualifies students to attend any university in the world.

Grant hopes they will then return to Africa to use their qualifications and experiences for the benefit of their home countries.

"Post-apartheid, the need for first rate education to fill the 'brain drain' vacuum is all the more urgent," says the actor.

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