Welwyn Garden City teacher’s ‘magic moment’ as F1 star Lewis Hamilton goes back to school

WHEN Carol Hopkins last met Lewis Hamilton, he was just seven-years-old and a pupil at the infant school where she is deputy headteacher.

His ambition, even back then, was to become a Formula 1 racing driver.

Since then Mrs Hopkins, of WGC, has followed his career with interest – and was delighted when her former student fulfilled his dreams.

And she was even more thrilled when Lewis, 25, made a surprise return to Peartree Spring Infant School, in Stevenage, on Wednesday.

The visit had been kept secret by staff, and Lewis stunned pupils as he walked into their school hall to take part in assembly.

Mrs Hopkins has been trying for the past year or two to arrange the visit – her quest even made the national press, accompanied by a photo of pupils holding a ‘congratulations Lewis’ card and copies of the Welwyn Hatfield Times after he’d won his first Grand Prix.

“When the headteacher told me he was coming to school I just went berserk,” said Mrs Hopkins, of Broadfield Place.

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“And when he came in the children were so excited.

“I was allowed to do the assembly.

“It was one of my magic moments in teaching – I was shaking with fear in case I messed it all up!”

She said: “He was such a lovely, normal, regular young man.

“Very down to earth and so welcoming to everyone he met.”

Mrs Hopkins added pupils were now working on a project designed to get Lewis to eat his greens – after it came to light in a question-and-answer session that the former F1 champ “doesn’t do veg”, instead feasting on just rice and chicken before races.

After the assembly Lewis popped to the junior school next door to surprise pupils there.

Lewis, whose family home remains in Tewin, said: “I have so many fond memories.

“Peartree was such a good part of my life – when I won the world championship I actually came and drove past to show my girlfriend [Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger] where I used to go to school.”