A FORMER Bridport schoolboy has dedicated his latest book to his former teacher who this week celebrates her 101st birthday.

Mark Warren, now a successful author, scriptwriter and copywriter has co-written How to be Interesting which spent three months in the best-selling charts.

And his thanks and acknowledgements in the book go to Betty Starkey, his old English teacher at Colfox School.

Mark, who also went to St Catherine’s Primary School in Bridport, won a Cartoon Art Trust Award for strip cartooning for his ‘Celeb’ cartoon strip, illustrated by Charles Peattie, which was specially commissioned for the satirical magazine Private Eye and is the publication’s second longest running cartoon.

He said it was Mrs Starkey, who lives in Burton Bradstock, who first sparked his desire to be a writer.

He sent her a copy of the book which is a light-hearted and sometimes irreverent look at what makes people interesting and why being engaging and appealing makes for success in business and in life.

“I wanted to include Mrs Starkey in the acknowledgements, to say thank you to her,” said Mark.

“It was her and her English lessons that first made me think that I might like to become a writer one day.

“She was very encouraging and I remember her persuading me to enter a national writing competition.

“The actor David Gillespie and I were asked to write the book through our work with our communications skills training business The Speech-works.

“It was a fascinating journey researching and compiling the book.

“And we’re pleased it’s been such a success.

“But it’s also very pleasing being able to thank Mrs Starkey this way. We sent her a copy as a little Christmas present.

“I hope it makes her smile.”

Mark lives in London but still spends time in the Bridport area whenever he can. Mrs Starkey, who taught at Colfox school from 1958 to 1974, was celebrating her birthday on Tuesday, January 7, with a small gathering.

She has three daughters, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Mrs Starkey’s husband Leonard died in 1996. He served with the RAF in the war and the couple moved to Burton Bradstock in 1952 when he become head of the village school. He stayed at the school until retiring in 1976.

Mrs Starkey’s daughter Anne Briscoe said her mother has been surprised to hear from her former pupil.

“She was surprised – and incredibly pleased – to hear from him,” she added.