Hello again everybody and I hope you are all clinging to the wreckage.

What a mess we are in and if we turn the clock back until last November I would never have believed what a year this would turn out to be. Still, we can always retreat to the safety of the past, which is really the essence of this column.

If you arrive at Borehamwood railway station, which is one of the busiest on Thameslink ­— or what we used to call the bed pan line referring to the two end destinations ­— you will see a great wall sculpture, film star names in the pavement and heritage plaques honouring the likes of Barbara Windsor and Cliff Richard. It is the beginning of a heritage trail that follows a straight path with heritage boards along the high street and onto the former MGM Studio site off Elstree Way.

Back in 1996 the British Film Institute launched an idea to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema in the UK and you could apply for one of 200 free plaques. Naturally I applied and I think I was granted about 20 for Borehamwood.

The wording was basic and the catch was that I had to organise unveiling ceremonies at our own cost. Luckily Elstree & Borehamwood Town Council and Elstree Studios and the BBC Elstree Centre agreed to help.

I was able to engage, without pay, the likes of John and Hayley Mills, Olivia de Havilland, Honor Blackman, Richard Todd, Ralph Fiennes, Malcolm McDowell, Christopher Lee and many others from my address book.

In 2006 I thought it a good idea to start the idea again and approached Roger Moore and Simon Cowell to be recipients of plaque unveiling at Elstree Studios. By this time I was fast becoming part of the past but luckily I still had pals in both their camps.

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These stars are inundated with mail so I had to get round that. Luckily Gareth Owen, who was Roger’s personal assistant, was a pal so that was easier to arrange and was a great success.

With Simon, who was then the hottest ticket in town, I was very lucky to know the site manager of the studio where they filmed X Factor, John West. John was a great pal when he worked at Elstree Studios. Thus he was able to place my letter directly in the hand of Simon. The result was that he agreed.

I invited Pete Waterman to be my co-host, just in case Simon failed to turn up. Pete told me he would arrive late to build up the tension, which he did. However, Simon was great on the day and sent me a lovely letter afterwards.

It is very easy to arrange events if you have great budgets. These days I doubt any of my events would have happened. I am told a so-called celebrity or yesterday name can get, say £5,000, for appearing on a television game show playing for a charity.

Thankfully real stars in my day respected what I was doing and often drove themselves to the event. I salute them all!

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios