DEARNE heritage enthusiasts have received some much needed help from their very own Mary Poppins when they were in need of funding.
For members of the Swinton Heritage group received support from none other than Dame Julie Andrews - after they helped the superstar uncover her Dearne ancestry.
The 77-year-old actress, who starred in hit movies Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, has donated memorabilia for sale to help keep the group going.
Group chair Giles Brearley, 57, of Fitzwilliam Street, Swinton, said: “It’s amazing to have contact with someone who is of such high profile.
“She writes to me every year and the last letter was a couple of weeks ago.
“She asked how my family was and said we can sell items she donates to raise money. She is so grateful for the help we have given her.”
The cross-Atlantic correspondence started around ten years ago when Dame Julie was researching her family tree, just as Giles was researching a book and discovered her grandfather Arthur Morris was from Swinton. He sent letters and a book to her Los Angeles office giving details about Arthur, a former pit deputy at Denaby Main Colliery who used to live in Temperance Street, Swinton.
Arthur was known during his lifetime as the ‘Pitman’s Poet’ for writing rhymes about the mining industry.
It is believed he moved the family to the south of England sometime during the 1930s.
As a thank you, Dame Julie has sent over memorabilia, including books, CDs, and signed pictures. In the latest batch, she sent a copy of her novel ‘Mandy’ and a signed picture, which have now been sold on internet site eBay to a fan in Germany for £126.
The money will be used by the society to revamp its website for a relaunch.
Both Giles and group vice chair, councillor Ken Wyatt, hope Dame Julie may one day make a visit to her ancestral home.
Coun Wyatt said: “We have asked if she would like to come and visit the town and she hasn’t ruled it out.
“It would be more of a private visit but that would still be a great day for the town.”