A FORMER West Dorset 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 charts for best sellers.

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

Mark, who 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.

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

“It’s very pleasing being able to thank Mrs Starkey this way. 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, celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, with a small gathering.

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

“She was incredibly pleased,” she added.