Oscar winner returns home: 'He deserves some sort of award ...'

Regulars at St Mary's Catholic Social Club welcome home local boy who grew up to become an Oscar winner
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The Independent Culture

It is one thing to be showered with Academy Awards or to dance like Tigger at the Oscars, watched by a global television audience of billions. It is quite another to receive the approval of those who remember you when you were nowt more than a lad growing up in a Lancashire mill town.

Such was the lesson learnt by the Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle yesterday when he returned, Oscar statuette in hand, for a drink at St Mary's Catholic Social Club in his native Radcliffe, near Bury. It was in these distinctly glitz-free surroundings that his family watched his Oscars night triumph over a few pints last week, and where, as a young boy full of dreams, Boyle spent countless hours sipping lemonade and munching crisps. "I think it's superb. He's done something no one else around here has ever done," said the club chairman, Albert Waters. "I think he deserves some sort of award for his achievements."

Of course, Boyle, 52, has already received "some sort of award" – he has been celebrating since his rags-to-riches tale about a young Mumbai slum-dweller scooped eight Oscars at the ceremony in Los Angeles, adding to the armful of trophies that had already been lavished upon it. The director has been taking the coveted best film Oscar with him everywhere, and he admitted yesterday that it had sustained a "bit of damage".

He pulled it out of a blue bag, rather than the plastic Marks & Spencer carrier bag he used to take his Bafta and Golden Globe awards to show off to friends and family at the club two weeks ago. Boyle said: "It is always great to be back in Radcliffe on home soil. It is where I grew up, where I've spent a third of my life and it's where my family still live. I must admit it's a pretty impressive turnout for a Sunday lunchtime. The world of film is very glamorous and it's good to be rooted in a place like this where people will say to you, 'How the bloody hell did you get to win an Oscar'. It's important to keep your feet on the ground."

He recalled how his father, Frank, 87, who used to work as the club's part-time barman, would embarrass him when he was 11 by getting him on stage to sing "Danny Boy" to the assembled drinkers. Boyle's twin sister, Maria, said: "When he produced the Oscar and we saw it for the first time, a few tears come to your eyes because you can't quite believe it. It's such an iconic statue. You think, 'Wow, this is Danny holding this'."

Bury has been enjoying something of a cultural renaissance of late. Famous as the birthplace of Sir Robert Peel, not to mention its black puddings, it is also home to the rock band Elbow, winners of the Nationwide Mercury Prize. Boyle, whose other films include Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, is being considered as a recipient of the freedom of the borough of Bury by the local council – an accolade he could well share with the band.

However, the director said he had no idea how his career would develop following the success of Slumdog, and that he had no immediate plans other than getting back to his home in London, seeing his three children and screwing his nameplate on his Oscar. "I have no idea," he said. "I've been promoting the film since September in America and I haven't had time to do any planning. But I'm looking forward to planning something."