Bedtime story promotes value of elderly

Monday 19th September 2022 9:15 am
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Author Rob Cowley and artist Karmen St John-Cain with the cheque for £1,000 they presented to Isle Listen from proceeds of their book ()

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What began as a literary adventure for a retired teacher in collaboration with a talented young artist is quickly snowballing to become a blossoming series of children’s story books, full of magic and wonder.

Since being launched in February, RED: A Manx Dragon Called Rufus has proved popular with young readers but also helped raise awareness on a wider scale, promoting discussions about diversity and inclusion.

Author Rob Cowley, former deputy head of St Ninian’s High School, and 16 year-old Karmen St John-Cain, who created digital illustrations for the book, have seen their work receive acclaim on and off island.

After handing over a cheque for £1,000 to mental health charity Isle Listen, from proceeds of the book, Rob has turned his attention to the next project in the Manx Bedtime Stories series.

He said: ‘In 2019, Karmen and I teamed up for NO ENTRY which raised £1,000 for Autism in Mann and that was quickly followed by PINK: The Adventures of a Manx Fairy which raised the same amount for Breast Cancer Now (IoM).

‘RED has now done the same for Isle Listen but, just as importantly, appears to be resonating with young people about finding their own voice and a place in the community.’

He added: ‘As a teacher I witnessed first-hand the mental health issues experienced by young people and so for the book to get youngsters talking at home and in schools is an unexpected bonus.

‘The feedback we have had has been really heartening and the most pleasing aspect of all is that teachers have been using the Rufus story as a class reader, to promote discussions about important and very current social issues.

‘To show what a small world it is, a former student of mine and one of Karmen’s former teachers at Onchan Primary School, who is now based in Hong Kong, is also using the book in schools over there so it is reaching quite an audience.’

The next project is well under way with Rob finalising ‘BLUE’ – which is illustrated by Graiagh Smith, aged 14, described by Rob as another very talented young artist.

‘BLUE’ follows the journey of an old Manx fire engine called Walter, forgotten and replaced, when an incident reveals the importance of learning from your elders and the wisdom they can impart.

Described as a ‘heartwarming story about a lovable fire engine and the value of the elderly’, proceeds will raise funds for the Age Concern (IoM) Hardship fund which is seeing high demand due to the pressures of the current food and fuel situation.

Rob said: ‘Given the subject matter, it seemed fitting that we support this wonderful charity which improves the health and well-being of our older people on the island.

‘Combined with providing an opportunity for a young Manx artist to illustrate a book, whilst providing a positive bedtime story for hundreds of children - now that’s a charity worth supporting.’

In a bid to raise funds, The Manx Bedtime Stories project, which is a non-profit charity, recently launched a JustGiving page.

There you can download for free all the completed books and also make a voluntary donation to join the Magic Kingdom Family. Find out more online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/manx-bedtime-stories or at www.bunchcreative.im bunch-books

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