Television presenter Dermot O’Leary visited Westholme School in Blackburn earlier this month.

Dermot, known for presenting The X Factor and This Morning, visited the school to talk about his love of reading and his new children’s book, Wings of Glory. 

Taking to the School’s Croston Theatre stage, Dermot spoke to pupils about the characters from his book and shared pictures from his own childhood to illustrate the important moments that shaped his love of reading and the inspirations behind his new novel. 

Lancashire Telegraph: Dermot O’Leary with staff and studentsDermot O’Leary with staff and students (Image: Westholme School)

Tales of his younger years included one about his father, who brought home a computer which Dermot would use to write stories on, then sell the stories to neighbours for 5p each. 

He told the children in the audience at Westholme how he fell in love with reading from trips out to the local library with his family, citing his favourite books as The Snowman, Father Christmas and Fantastic Mr Fox. 

Speaking about his new book at the event, which was organised through independent coffee, book and gift shop, Book, Bean and Ice Cream in Kirkham, Dermot said: “I wanted to teach children about history but in an entertaining way. I love history and animals and wanted to combine the two.

“In 2015 I had the good fortune of making a documentary about the Battle of Britain and I met former RAF wing commander pilot, Tom Neil, who was called up aged 19 to fly. He left such an impression on me that I based one of the characters in Wings of Glory on Tom.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Dermot O’Leary reading part of his book at Westholme SchoolDermot O’Leary reading part of his book at Westholme School (Image: Westholme School)

During his visit to the school, Dermot also shared his writing advice with the children.

He said: “Don’t just think writing is for the classroom. Write at home too. And, if you have a good idea, make sure to write it down so you remember it and you then can come back to it and add to that idea.”

Dermot concluded his presentation with an excerpt from his book with the children then invited to partake in a draw-along activity where Dermot’s book illustrator, Claire Powell, gave a step-by-step guide via video of how to draw the book’s leading character, Linus.

Dermot then walked around as many of the children as possible to see their drawings of his much-loved character. 

During a question and answer session, Westholme pupils were given the opportunity to ask Dermot their burning questions. 

Westholme School's interim principal, Mark Upton said: “It was a great thrill to welcome Dermot O’Leary to Westholme – he was both humble and inspiring and our students thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his love of reading and his tips for writing.

“He was kind and considerate with his answers to their questions and made an effort to speak with as many children as possible.

“At Westholme, we strive to bring inspirational people into our students’ holistic experience, and Dermot’s visit will be talked about by all for years to come.”