Published Monday 19th December 2016

The voice of Neil Hanvey, the Star Wars fan from Hereford who died in the summer, has appeared in the series’ latest blockbuster, it has been revealed.

Gareth Edwards, the Hollywood director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, told cinemagoers in a video message played before a screening of the new film in Hereford on Sunday.

In the audience was Neil’s wife, Andrea, who met Gareth when he travelled to St Michael’s Hospice in August to give Neil an insight into Rogue One, which at the time was unfinished.

Thirty-six-year-old Neil, who worked at Withington-based allpay, died just two days after the surprise visit which came off the back of an online campaign which made international headlines.

Gareth, who has also directed Monsters and a remake of Godzilla, said his trip to St Michael’s inspired him to record the message.

‘It was very touching to meet Neil. His background was graphic design and mine was too, so I feel like in some other world we would have been really good friends,’ he told those attended the screening at Hereford Odeon.

He revealed that Neil was “scarily good” at alien impressions, so much so that he recorded him doing one and put it in the film.
Gareth also sent a message after the screening saying it was a pleasure to be involved.

‘Star Wars means the world to so many people, including myself,’ he said. ‘Thanks for asking me, it was a beautiful thing to be part of Neil’s life, if only at the end. I will always remember my visit to see Neil at St Michael’s very fondly. Stay in touch :)’

The short, pre-recorded message, was made possible by Lucasfilm Ltd, Odeon and St Michael’s Hospice.