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Stars of Cheshunt and Waltham Cross

PUBLISHED: 17:57 14 April 2014 | UPDATED: 17:57 14 April 2014

Andy Abraham

Andy Abraham

Archant

Andy Abraham, shot to fame as runner-up on The X Factor in 2005. The former bin man ultimately lost out to fellow contestant Shayne Ward but went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008.

Sam Bailey's debut singleSam Bailey's debut single

The national and international exposure was the springboard for the Cheshunt-based singer to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional artist. He has just finished a soul show run with his band at North London’s Millfield Theatre, which featured new and classic songs – mainly soul greats to uplift the audience, he says. The 49-year-old is also in the process of putting together some new recordings.

With the X Factor Tour, which featured singers from the reality show’s 10 years, concluding last month, the singer reflects on its alumni, with some advice for its producers: ‘Even though I’m over the moon Sam Bailey won last year’s X Factor, I believe the show needs to go back to the original format – auditions – where it was less glamour and more substance and only about the voice, he says.

‘I also think the likes of One Direction, Olly Murs, Leona Lewis, JLS and hopefully Sam Bailey give the show credibility and hope to others that have the same dreams and aspirations.’

He says his own career has been a magical experience. ‘I have so many fond memories through my career to date but looking back one of them must be selling out the Royal Albert Hall.’ Of the experience he jokes, ‘I was so nervous I nearly wet myself!’

David WattsDavid Watts

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Waltham Cross resident David Watts may not look familiar, but his legs have been seen the world over.

David, 73, had a role in classic comedy film Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

And, now that the surviving Pythons have reunited and are performing some of their best-known sketches again, a less-well-known tale has surfaced.

Maria Walker with the Cheshunt Special Olympics East Herts football teamMaria Walker with the Cheshunt Special Olympics East Herts football team

Former medieval re-enactor David explained how he and some friends had a company in the late 1970s, which supplied all the arms and weapons for the spoof Arthurian film, including swords helmets and shields.

He explains, “We filmed the Black Knight fight in the woods in Loughton, Essex, where there was river and wooden bridge which were used in the scene. John Cleese did some of the fight and was doubled by an ex-soldier when they cut off his legs.

My legs were then used when I doubled for him on the bridge.’

Describing his memories of the young Pythons, he says, ‘They were all very amenable. They were really quite new to films at the time. I was never star-stuck, they were just nice mates.

‘I remember going into Graham Chapman’s house, in Highgate, and he had a big fridge, which was unusual at the time, and it was completely filled from top to bottom with Fosters lager. We practiced the galloping horse noise for the film with coconuts in the back garden.’

On the reunification of the Python team, David says he is delighted: ‘Good luck to them. Some of them have done financially better than others, but I’m glad that they’ve settled all their differences because they all had a big fall out. I’m very pleased for them.’

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Maria Walker, a housing manager for people with disabilities in Cheshunt and Hoddesdon, saw a gap in services for her clients and decided to do something about it.

Recognising sport as a key enabler of fun, teamwork and fitness, she set up the Cheshunt Special Olympics East Herts Football Club to provide sporting opportunities against other teams.

In setting up the club, she sought advice from nearby Tottenham Hotspur and her inspirational work also led her new team to become affiliated with Cheshunt FC.

The players had a huge boost when Maria took them on a surprise trip. On the pretext of doing a photo-shoot of the team, she took them to a huge house and gardens in nearby Sawbridgeworth, which unknown to the players was the home of David and Victoria Beckham.

After a few photos were taken the celebrity couple emerged to the delight of team.

Maria says, ‘David and Victoria – I just can’t fault them – they were really, really lovely.’

David was given a Cheshunt FC jersey signed by the team, which he put on immediately.

‘I just expected him to say that’s nice, thank you, but he said “I’m going to put that on right now.” We were just gobsmacked.

On the future of the club she says things are looking very bright: ‘It has snowballed and I can just see that continuing.’

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Did you know?

- Waltham Cross was home to the young Princess Elizabeth before she became Elizabeth I.

- The eyes of the world were on Waltham Cross during the 2012 Olympics as it hosted the canoe slalom course.

- Victoria Beckham attended Goffs School, Cheshunt.

- Lotus Cars and Debenhams were both founded in Cheshunt.

- The 13th century Eleanor Cross in Waltham Cross marks a stopping point of the funeral procession of Eleanor of Castille, wife of Edward I.

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