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Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:17 UK
Mirfield's Sir Patrick 'dazed but delighted' at 70
Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart is celebrating his 70th birthday at Huddersfield University

Sir Patrick Stewart, Mirfield's most famous son, is marking his 70th birthday by returning to his home turf.

The Star Trek and X-Men actor is taking part in graduation ceremonies at Huddersfield University where he is in his second term as Chancellor.

Sir Patrick, who was knighted in June, admits he has recently been back to visit his old haunts in Mirfield.

He says his birthday is a chance to celebrate and reflect: "I'm a bit dazed by it all, frankly, but delighted."

Born in Mirfield on 13 July 1940, Sir Patrick has come a long way since first treading the boards when he was still a child.

As a star of stage and screen both in Britain and in Hollywood he is certainly one of the world's most famous actors.

Despite his stardom he says his West Yorkshire roots are incredibly important to him and that is why he is spending his birthday at Huddersfield University.

He says: "The University does figure very significantly in my life. When, seven years ago, I was asked if I would be prepared to consider the job of Chancellor there I was still living in Los Angeles.

"I was homesick and wanting to find a good reason to relocate back to England.

"It was the tipping-point for me. I came back and found that it gave me a chance to put something back into my local community."

Sir Patrick being knighted by the Queen
Sir Patrick was knighted at Buckingham Palace in June 2010

Those who only know Sir Patrick for his most famous film and TV roles might be surprised to discover that his early years in Mirfield were quite tough.

He remembers: "It was a very typical West Riding working class childhood and it was fine.

"These days people say, 'It must have seemed awful when you were growing up'. But, of course, you didn't know any different and everybody else was living in the same way.

"It was hand-to-mouth with my mother and me literally hiding behind the sofa when the rent collector came to the door."

Culminating in receiving his knighthood from the Queen in June 2010, Sir Patrick says his return from the glitz and glamour of life in Los Angeles has seen him enjoying "the best years of my life".

However, he admits his decision to come back to Britain was not without a few pre-performance nerves.

He says: "The first thing I did here was Anthony and Cleopatra with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I remember standing behind the scenery on the press night writing the reviews in my head.

"They went along the lines of, 'Who does he think he is?'

"But it has not turned out like that."

His life has not been without its risks, says Sir Patrick. Whether it was heading across the Atlantic to play Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation or coming back to tread the boards in Britain, he says he has faced some difficult decisions.

He explains: "They have all been gambles, in a sense. But without risk, without having a shot at something and not knowing whether you can pull it off or not, I find it stimulating in a strange kind of way.

I took a little drive around my neighbourhood. It gave me goosebumps.
Sir Patrick Stewart

"That's what keeps me feeling youthful and certainly not feeling 70.

"I was 40 a couple of weeks ago, that's how it feels!"

Before performing his duties at Huddersfield University on his birthday, Sir Patrick says he recently took a nostalgic trip to his old stomping ground in Mirfield.

He says: "I took a little drive around my neighbourhood. It gave me goosebumps.

"I went past the house I was born in and lived in for 15 years - a one-up one-down in a yard.

"What was extraordinary was that distances and measurements have shrunk!

"I always thought the street I lived on was a long, steep street - it's not. It's very short and not that steep at all."

And Sir Patrick says once his 70th birthday is out of the way he will again be revisiting his childhood days.

He explains: "My life back then is very vivid to me and I've started writing a little about it.

"I'll be going back there in my head a great deal in the coming few years."

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