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Judi Dench tribute will make John Mills ‘smile from above’, says his daughter

Sir John Mills (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Sir John Mills (Fiona Hanson/PA)

A tribute to the late actor Sir John Mills from Dame Judi Dench and Stephen Fry would make him “smile from above”, according to his daughter.

Actress Juliet Mills said the pair were “very close friends of his” and he would be honoured the event is taking place.

Dame Judi and Fry will join Hayley Mills, another of Sir John’s daughters, for a virtual celebration of his life which launches a centenary appeal for the Vision Foundation sight loss charity to mark its 100th anniversary.

Sir John Mills Memorial – St Martins in the Fields
Hayley and Juliet Mills (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir John, who died in 2005, had macular degeneration and struggled with his eyesight in his later years.

He served as the senior vice president of Vision Foundation.

Discussing the event, Juliet told the PA news agency: “It will make him smile from above, I’m sure, because apart from anything else they were very, very close friends.

“He adored Dame Judi and Stephen was a great friend of his.”

The event will see Dame Judi, Fry and Hayley share personal memories of Sir John and reflect on how he lived and worked with deteriorating sight.

Dame Judi Dench comments
Dame Judi Dench (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Hayley said there is a “stigma” about partially sighted or blind people working as actors.

“I think it is about ignorance because unless you have had that experience yourself, you don’t know what it is like,” she said.

“It’s not something you can see unless someone comes towards you with a white stick and people have to make other allowances.”

The actress said her father remained “terribly independent” despite the issues with his vision.

“He carried on working for a very long time and people didn’t know that he was having problems,” she said.

“He was so very lucky because his sight diminished quite slowly, which gave him the opportunity to adapt.”

Stephen Fry comments
Stephen Fry (PA)

She added the Vision Foundation was “tremendously helpful to (Sir John) when he was going through his problems and challenges”.

Dame Judi has previously discussed her own problems with her eyesight caused by macular degeneration.

The free event, titled Taking Centre Stage, takes place on Thursday at 6.45pm.

It will be live streamed at

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