A Galaxy of stars – from far, far away: GALLERY

HUNDREDS of Star Wars fanatics converged on Sheffield, not from a galaxy far, far away - but from Worral, Meadowhead and Stannington.

Sunday, 14th October 2007, 2:11 pm
Updated Monday, 15th October 2007, 10:39 am

The sci-fi buffs descended on Hallam University for The Star-backed Celebfest 2007 at the university's Arundel Gate main building.

And there in attendance was the Dark Lord himself – Darth Vader aka Dave Prowse MBE – at what is intended to be regular film, TV, stage, arts and sport celebrity festivals.

Fans were greeted at the door by an armed Imperial Stormtrooper. The sight was slightly less intimidating when you found out that it was really 36-year-old Ann Swain, from Birmingham, who sets aside her weekends to attend conventions up and down the country.

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Also there was Kenny Baker, who played the diminutive robot R2D2 and Warwick Davis, who played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

Warwick said: "This is to celebrate 30 years of the Star Wars phenomenon, and to raise some money for the Bluebell Wood appeal while we are here. There are so many fans, young and old."

As if to prove the point Simon Stewart had travelled from Leeds to shake hands with the actors, and to introduce his two-year-old son Harry to the Star Wars legend.

He said: "I loved Star Wars when I was a kid and I am hoping that when he gets bigger I can show him the films and he'll be able to appreciate having come here today."

You certainly needed to appreciate the film to pay 40 for an autographed photo, signed by Dave Prowse and one or two of the other actors.

David Pearson, 43, from Chancet Wood View, Meadowhead, had been dragged along by his seven-year-old son Jack, clutching his light sabre. He said: "You should see my Sky Plus at home. It is filled with just Star Wars. I am not allowed to delete them."

The previous evening had been a fundraising dinner at the University for Star Wars fans, which included "fine foods flown in from a Galaxy Far, Far Away..." There was the Skywalker Salad, Chewbacca Chicken, and the Vader Vegetarian.

Dave Prowse, now 72, said: "Vader's costume in quilted leather and fiberglass, weighed 40lbs and was like a sauna inside. I wore just swimming trunks and a T-shirt underneath.

"And the mask was a nightmare. Once it was fitted I became virtually blind. The tinted eyepieces misted up. So there I was, the most awe inspiring villain in the universe, sweating like a pig and as blind as a bat."

"Star Wars has been good to me though," he added. "This weekend I am in Sheffield, last weekend it was Philadelphia, before that Salt Lake City. Next I am going to Dallas and Winnipeg."

Organisers of the event said they expected to raise thousands of pounds for Bluebell Wood, the children's cancer hospice.