AS the film world toasts the star of Bohemian Rhapsody, the biographical film about British rock band Queen, one Herefordshire woman looks back fondly on the day she sang with Freddie Mercury.

Food writer Judith Wills, who lives near Kington, was in the audience when Hay Bookshop Cinema screened the film which has won Rami Malek best actor prize in the British Academy Film Awards.

Renowned for her book, The Food Bible, Judith’s writing career began in Swinging Sixties London when she took on the “job of her dreams” on the UK’s first eve pop magazine, Fabulous (later Fab 208).

Chatting after the showing of Bohemian Rhapsody, which has won two awards at this year’s BAFTA ceremony, Judith explained her first meeting with the legendary singer in 1972.

In her book, Keith Moon Stole My Lipstick, the author who lives near Kington writes: “I had my first encounter with a band who were not yet in the league of pop royalty but were obviously hoping to get there because their name was, indeed, Queen.”

Asked to interview a “group of guys” she was promised it would be a laugh.

“Fantastic music was blasting around the house,” she says.

“A crew of boys – obviously, from the look of them, Queen themselves, bashed their way through the entrance door and we all stood on the stairs shaking hands, hugging, kissing, and eventually falling over. They may have come straight from the pub – I know I had.”

The music turned out to be Queen’s first album. “They had released it back in the summer and the lead singer Freddie Mercury, whose OTT behaviour, I finally realised, accounted for at least 75 per cent of the chaos that happened that afternoon, sang along with each track.”

He asked Judith to sing along. “So I did a few la la las until he got engrossed with his own performance, finally bowing and flourishing as each track came to an end.

He put on quite a show and by the end of the afternoon when I staggered away I knew – and this time I wasn’t wrong – that this band would be big no matter what bad start they had had. Freddie had such a beautiful voice and you just couldn’t ignore him. At all.”

Judith’s remarkable story – a 17-year-old ‘country bumpkin’ who left home and landed herself a job at the heart of 60s London – is told in her book, recently republished by the History Press.

She sang with Freddie Mercury, got high with Jim Morrison, had a strange encounter with David Bowie, babysat Kate Beckinsale, accompanied Billy Fury to a christening, went hiking with Mr Spock, starred at the Albert Hall with Tom Jones, lunched with George Best, graced the red carpet with Peter Sellers, got chased by Andy Williams and had the Book of Mormon read to her by one of the Osmonds.

Later when she moved to Herefordshire with her husband Tony, and sons Will and Chris, she was to become a respected food and health author. Her revised book, The Food Bible is claimed to be the ‘ultimate reference book for food and health.