SIR Quentin Blake couldn’t wait to get out of Sidcup when he left the town he grew up in to head for Cambridge as a 19-year-old student.

But the 80-year-old has found himself drawn back to the area in recent years and there are few better excuses to visit your home town than to celebrate a knighthood.

The world famous illustrator and author was honoured by the Queen in December and a group of around 30 fans were delighted to have him to themselves for an evening at Sidcup Library on June 25.

Sir Quentin lived in a house in Hurst Road and was still a pupil at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School when he had his first cartoons published in satirical magazine Punch.

He said: "In many ways when I was 20-something I wanted to leave and it is only recently I have come back.

"The library was important to me and I can remember what the books in the library looked like because they all looked the same.

"In a way it was quite exciting because you didn’t know what was going to be inside."

Surrounded by titles he illustrated and below a mural he made specially for the library in 2007, Sir Quentin has brought life and colour to more books than he cares to mention over more than six decades of work.

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Sir Quentin below the mural done specially for Sidcup Library in 2007.

The man who brought Roald Dahl’s tales so vividly to life was inspired by three teachers at the school whose art block now bears his name.

He told News Shopper: "One of my English teachers at school was called Rowland Rahtz and his middle name was Quentin.

"He was a neighbour in Hurst Road and I used to go to his house and read his books.

"That was an interesting time.

"I had another very good English teacher called JH Walsh and it was thanks to him that I went to Cambridge.

"Then in sixth form my art teacher Stanley Simmonds was also very good."

As he discussed his latest book Beyond the Page it is clear Sir Quentin, who now lives in France, has no plans to hang up his pencils and paint box any time soon.

An audience member asked the octogenarian if there was "such a thing as illustrator’s block and have you ever suffered from it?"

Sir Quentin replied: "If there is, I don’t have it."

Happy fans

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Rob Taylor, Business Academy Bexley librarian.

"Some of those drawings I haven’t seen since I was a kid and I had forgotten about them.

"I think he’s done a lot to get kids excited about books and reading."

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Sian Spencer-Little, play specialist at the PRU, Farnborough.

"He manages to get such emotions into his illustrations.

"He can take story and make it fully alive for children and for young people."

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Julie and Harry Cracklow, retired, The Lawns, Sidcup.

Mr Cracklow: "The illustrations have been around for ages and they are wonderful.

"That couple with the grisly hair The Twits: I really like them."