When I first started this journey, I was simply writing a story for my grandchildren. As interest and the social media activity grew, I started thinking of how we could support children to read, get them excited about stories and using their imagination. With the team at Sallara Marketing we developed a website and the Lord Ted Fan Club. Parents, teachers, and children that visit www.poppyandlordted.com will see the Lord Ted Fan Club section contains downloadable activities for children for free – activities from baking to nature trails, word searches to a quiz. The Lord Ted Fan Club is designed to support children with their development through reading, writing, and exploring the world that we live in whilst having some fun at the same time and will grow as we add more content.
Then we found out about the work Cressida Cowell MBE, Waterstones Children’s Laureate, is doing calling on the government to fund primary schools. To support this, we asked for nominations to give away signed copies of the book for UK primary school libraries with a great response.
Many schools across the country have reached out and I have been delighted to donate a book to their school libraries.
Year 4 ‘Robins’ at Bells Farm Primary School in Birmingham reached out to me and were the first to receive copies of my book. I was absolutely thrilled to hear from them and how they are embracing the story and using the book in some of their classes.
I was so overwhelmed by their response and how they love the story that I took a couple of hours out from my schedule to do a surprise visit to meet the Robins before the 2021 summer term ended. It was going to be a zoom call, but we surprised the children with a visit instead pretending the zoom link had broken – very crafty work by the wonderful teaching assistant Mrs. Sabir. What an amazing welcome and incredible class of well-mannered children.
In addition to how they are embracing the story and using the book in some of their classes, I got to read them an extract, listen to them read and be asked some deep, challenging and well thought through questions from wanting advice on how to become a writer, wanting to know how Grandpa received Lord Ted in the first place to when the film be released. And of course, I took Lord Ted with me who was a big hit shared very carefully around the class.
I was astounded how they really understand the story and take time to understand the characters and most importantly the tremendous reviews from everyone; children can be overly honest sometimes as we know, but the feedback has been incredible. I think back to when I was that age and I don’t think I was listening to Gustav Holst or completing book reviews. I am very proud that these are the first children to read my book and a massive thanks to Mr. Lo and Mrs, Sabir their teachers – truly inspirational.
I will be back at Bells Farm Primary to support World Book day in March 2022.
Etwall Primary School in Derbyshire asked me to visit in September 2021, looking at the skills needed to be effective readers. One of the areas they look at is what the author is thinking as they write, so that they find a deeper meaning in the text. They asked me to support this initiative by spending time with children across the Key Stages discussing my thought processes and approach to writing wanting to make the writing process real for their learners. What a wonderful experience, spending the whole day at Etwall Primary.
Lord Ted was, as usual, a big hit with all the children who were very polite and respectful.
The Adventures of Poppy and Lord Ted has encouraged work across all age groups. After reading to each year group in the main hall, I then spent time in every class with work from ‘descriptive words and sentences’, ‘character descriptions’ and ‘letter writing’, giving out awards of badges and bookmarks for great effort. I sat with the children as they worked through the set tasks. The standard of handwriting and use of vocabulary was outstanding across all classes. Needless to say, I was blown away with the love of the book and the teacher’s efforts to bring different elements to life. I have a newfound admiration for the work our teachers do today – I was exhausted!
Some of the children want to be writers, and some have already written a book! I was lucky enough to get to read some of their work – I need to up my game.
A massive thank you to Miss. Dawson and all the teachers, all the children for the warm welcome, the school dinner and all the effort that went into making this such an inspiring day for me.
I will return to the school later this school year to see progress and meet my new friends.
I am really looking forward to travelling to Tamworth in Staffordshire joining Stoneydelph Primary School's ‘Bedtime Story Day’, on October 1st where the children will come in their pyjamas in exchange for either the donation of a book or a donation towards books. And, of course, I will be donating a copy of The Adventures of Poppy and Lord Ted for their school library. Both Lord Ted and I will be in our pyjamas!
The morning will be arranged around my visit and then activities related to the book in the afternoon concentrating on researching facts for the plot. The children will then be given the opportunity to do their own research. I’m excited about this visit – should be great fun!
So a truly life changing experience for me, one that was never anticipated when the process started. Through all of my career I have worked hard and I am proud of what I have achieved but nothing has ever come close to the pride I’ve felt when visiting these amazing children – truly inspirational.