Monday, May 29, 2023

Heroine of the Hour 2023 – Matilda Walden

Matthew Steeples salutes home educated Matilda Walden, an impressive teenager whose enthusiasm knows no bounds and whose video about steeplejack Fred Dibnah is a must watch

When The Steeple Times featured the story of “Britain’s most inaccessible home” – which is now somewhat surprisingly “sold subject to contract” through agents Fisher Hopper – in February this year, I included footage shared on YouTube that had been filmed by a young lady I labelled “charming and enthusiastic.”


In the time since, I have watched a number of subsequent videos by Matilda Walden – a young lady who aged just 13 years old last year won the world record for assembling a ‘Mr Potato Head’ in just 5.69-seconds – and most recently was impressed by one she made after visiting the former home of the late telly box titan Dr Fred Dibnah MBE.


In the 6:03-minute sequence, Walden (pictured top dancing outside it) toured Dibnah’s former home in Bolton, Lancashire – last featured in this publication in October 2012 when it was offered for sale for the somewhat staggering sum of £1.25 million ($1.54 million, €1.42 million or درهم5.67 million). She shared lively commentary and even performed a song she has written about the legendary Lancastrian steeplejack.


In doing so and in also sharing video footage she has filmed about steam trains, music and many other things, this inquisitive youngster provides an example of a Generation Z mind put to good use. Walden’s passion is clear and she is someone I do believe who will go far.


Thrice married father-of-five Fred Dibnah himself was himself known for his bluntness. He described himself as “just a bum who climbs chimeys” and once stated of his work: “If you make, it’s half a day with the undertaker.” He had no time for “fancy London types” and took the view that: “We’ve become a nation of conmen, living by selling double-glazing to each other.” His type sadly won’t be seen again and as Matilda herself concludes: “They don’t make them like Fred Dibnah anymore.”


Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party. Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.


Join Matilda Walden’s 2,700 followers on Facebook by clicking here and join the 1,200 who subscribe to her YouTube channel by clicking here.


David Harper
Matilda River Walden with David Harper, one of the ‘stars’ of ‘Antiques Road Trip’ and ‘Bargain Hunt.’
Tyson Fury
The teenager with the boxer Tyson Fury (in a ‘bread section’ in a Morrisons supermarket).
Richard Jupp Elbow
And with Richard Jupp, former co-founder, songwriter and drummer of the band Elbow.
The Sun Mr Potato Head record
In March 2022, the vlogger featured in ‘The Sun’ and was described as the “spud toy teen girl” who “smashed the world record for the fastest assembly of a Mr Potato Head toy.” She “put the pieces together in just 5.69 seconds” and “beat the previous best of 6.62 seconds, which stood as a world record for 12 years.”
Fred Dibnah
Bolton born Dr Frederick Dibnah MBE (1938 – 2004) described himself as a “backstreet mechanic,” but in essence it was his role as an entertainer that resulted in his becoming a genuine national treasure. Of meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II, he remarked: “I was slightly nervous shaking hands with the Queen. She asked me if I was still climbing chimneys. It beats me how she keeps tabs on everybody. I never thought I would be receiving an MBE.” Of wanting to meet the now King Charles III, he added: “I’d like to meet [him] because we share the same views about modern architecture.” Dibnah appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ on 1st December 1991 and chose tracks by amongst others Gary and Vera Aspey, Neil Diamond, James Galway, Elaine Paige, Sergey Rachmaniov, Jennifer Rush and Johnann Strauss II.
Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


  1. Unfortunately there’s not enough people like this in the world. Both Matilda and the late great Fred Dibnah are few and far between. I highly recommend watching Fred’s videos on YouTube…entertaining is an understatement.

  2. These people are hopeful reminders that life is an event of pretty grand proportions if given the chance. Delightful is good. Yes, thanks Matthew!


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