Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

New Chapter for Grandad Richard

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

New Chapter for Grandad Richard

Article excerpt

Away from his family in the sands of Saudi Arabia, time dragged for project manager Richard Walkington.

He thought about his seven young children at home on Teesside, waiting for seven individual letters.

And though he replied to all their letters every single week, there wasn't enough news to go round. "Not much happens in a Portacabin in the dessert," he chuckles.

So Richard, now 68, took to dreaming up stories for his very own "magnificent seven." "I sat back and created fantasies," he says. "It was a great escape for me drifting off into a child's world."

It was also a way for the civil engineer to wind down from his demanding job as an international construction project manager, mostly in the Far East and Saudi Arabia.

And when he retired last year from a career in the oil industry, the tales were his inspiration for a new career.

His first colourful children's book, Barker, The Multi Coloured Mutt, featuring seven separate stories, is hot off the press and in the shops at pounds 4.99.

It's fun packed and written with eight year-old grandchild, Mandy, in mind.

"She's the daughter of my youngest daughter Gillian who has all the stories I've written over the years carefully stored away," says Richard.

"I was astounded when she brought them out wrapped up in plastic bags."

Barker is the first of the many children's stories and novels written by Richard in far-flung places, which he aims to publish through his own Redcar-based company, Firthgrove.

The book's stories centre round a magical dog with special powers, which will appeal to the three-to-seven age group.

The colourful illustrations are by Bernsey, a Scottish artist, who Richard says captured Barker exactly.

It's dedicated to his South Bank family roots and particularly his mum, Miriam Rebecca, whose maiden name Stead, he has used. …

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