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King John lends a helping hand to modern warriors

IT SEEMS 30 years can pass in the swipe of a sword.

Film director John Boorman last night headed up a dinner to celebrate the anniversary of his acclaimed mythical epic 'Excalibur', based on the legend of King Arthur.

"No, it doesn't feel like three decades at all -- I don't know where those years have gone," he told the Irish Independent.

"I filmed most of it all around Wicklow. It's one of the rare occasions where I made a film and got to sleep in my own bed."

But last night's star-studded event at Powerscourt House in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, also highlighted the importance of contemporary fighters -- fundraising for a new charity to help soldiers and ex-servicemen suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I got involved through my daughter Katrine who is on the trust and I've since become very involved because it's an incredible thing," he said.

"The effect it has on people who are distressed, homeless, have various emotional disturbances, is fantastic.

"It puts them back on their feet so it's really, really important."

The dinner -- with 150 guests including Bob Geldof, Chris de Burgh and a tight-lipped former Health Minister Mary Harney -- marked the introduction to Ireland of the Warrior Programme, a UK-based charity.


The 78-year-old Englishman, whose credits include 'Deliverance', 'Hope and Glory', 'The General' and 'The Tailor of Panama', is a long-time resident of Annamoe, close to Glendalough. He had already moved to Ireland by 1981, and decided to shoot 'Excalibur' here.

It had been a long-time dream of his to film the legend and the movie, which starred Helen Mirren, was a significant critical and commercial success.

The film was also a family affair.

"I was 14 and I had a decent role, got a coat of armour and to ride a horse around and was given some money for it so it was fantastic," Boorman's son, Charley, said. Unsurprisingly, he also recalled a scene with a near-naked Ms Mirren.

Among others in attendance last night was Neil Jordan, with Boorman Snr revealing he is planning to start work on a new movie -- called 'Broken Dream' -- next year, which he wrote with the leading Irish director "years ago".

But the focus of the night, apart from the hog roast and mead menu, was fundraising for the Warrior programme which was established in 2007.

In October of last year, the first three-day residential Warrior Programme Ireland took place -- with 16 ex-servicemen from the Irish and British armies and members of the Irish United Nations Veterans Association -- at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation near Enniskerry.

"There are a lot of soldiers and people out there who are a little bit lost," Charley said. "This programme doesn't fix them -- it gives them the tools to be able to cope with what they've got."

Irish Independent