On the morning of Thursday January 11th 2018, I was on my way to visit St John’s Catholic Primary School. This was a particularly significant day for me as this is the Primary School I attended as a child!
As I drove through Bridgnorth High-Town, I passed my old shoe shop, Blunts, which was still there! I drove around the town past the Library, where I used to go and choose my favourite stories and then past the shops in Bridgnorth town centre. As I drove into Innage Gardens and up to St John’s Primary School – it looked different to how I remember. I think looking through young eyes, the building seemed so much grander!
I was greeted by the secretary and taken through the narrow corridors into the hall. I could hear the dinner staff talking behind the closed shutters and a lovely feeling of happiness washed over me. The room had been decorated since I was there, but it did have an air of familiarity to it. As I set up my props, I took myself back to when I was at school and thought about the friends I used to have and the teachers. I went through their names and I felt like I had gone back in time! I started at St John’s in 1981 at the age of 4. I always loved going to school and I have the fondest memories growing up in a wonderful close community in Bridgnorth. My mum always recounts the story of when I started school, how I was inspired to write my own stories. On one particular day, I had written a fabulous story, with full stops and capital letters! I was only 5 years old and my teacher Miss Millington was so impressed she sent me to the headteacher, Mr Hallam, for a gold star! This was the start of something very powerful for me. I was given confidence and I was excited to read and write using my imagination! At a young age, I could read fluently and I loved nothing more than to write stories and draw my own illustrations!
Thirty-seven years later, I was returning as a Children’s Author! This was the most incredible feeling, as I was back to where it all began! I was nurtured at this school as a child, which I think has made a significant impact on my choices in life and my love of writing for children.
I imagined myself at school at 5 years old and thought about what it would be like to have met my older self. If I had the opportunity to meet an author at the age of 5, what would that have done for my imagination, confidence and self-belief?
As the children entered the hall the room was filled with chatter, smiles and laughter. I felt waves of excitement as I began to introduce myself to the children. I explained how I had come to this school when I was little and how it had brought back my wonderful memories of when I was a young girl.
The Children listened beautifully and were so engaged in the story. I asked them questions about how Douglas would feel to have magic flying trousers. The children had some fantastic answers! When the part of the story came to the Treasure Chest, I asked some of the children to come out and find what was inside. I asked “What do you think the magic potions do?” The children had fabulous answers! One little boy called George particularly impressed me with his idea, “It makes Douglas talk to birds!” Which fitted in beautifully with the theme of the story!
I told the children the story of my journey from teacher to children’s author and I could see the concentration on their faces. Having the opportunity to return to the place where I grew up and being able to share my experience with a new generation of children at St John’s, felt incredible! I explained to the children that if there was something that they wanted to do, to never ever give up on it. I had wanted to write for children from a very young age and to finally be able to live my dream was extremely rewarding.
Visiting St John’s has been the highlight of my Children’s Author journey so far! It feels wonderful to be invited into schools and share what I do with children. If I can support schools in engaging children’s interest in reading and writing their own inspiring stories, I feel like I am following the path I always wanted to! I cannot wait for my next visits and the wonderful children and staff that I am going to meet! Becoming a children’s author is both a privilege and a pleasure for me and I feel extremely lucky to be able to do this as a career!
Here are a few photographs from my Primary School days:
Age 7 – I was in class 3 (which is now Year 2)
Age 11 – St John’s Rounders Team photograph