Inspirational stories

To celebrate World Book Day, members of our team have been telling us about the books and the stories that’ve inspired them.

Val Ockwell – Relationship Manager

When I was at primary/junior school, I remember reading a book called ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by the American author Munro Leaf.

Because we lived out in the sticks, I remember the book arriving in the school’s travelling library van.

The story’s stayed with me for… well, for a not to be disclosed number of years.

It was a truly inspiring story about a gentle bull who’d rather have been in the pasture smelling the flowers, than fighting the Matadors in the bullring.

Why did I love it so much? Because it was a good story then, and it’s still a good story now. It communicates a very powerful message about being different – and that it’s ok to be so.

I also enjoyed the great illustrations by Robert Lawson.

Emma Jones – Administration Manager

I love pretty much all the books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, especially ‘Mr Biff the boxer’, a story about deadly boxing rivals Mr. Biff and Mr. Bop. Mr. Bop is fit and lean and Mr. Biff . . . Well, Mr. Biff likes a cream cake or two. 

I love the fact that they’re funny stories. And I love the detailed illustrations. I’ve kept all my old books and now repeatedly read them to my children.


I’d also recommended another great book called ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. It was once described by Richard Curtis as: “A wonderful work of art, and a wonderful window into the human heart”. It’s a lovely leave out book for all the family, and it’s like a little hug for the mind.

Alison Sammin – Marketing Manager

I used to have a huge set of Ladybird books. It surprises me now, looking back on them, how mean, evil, and brutal some of the stories were.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed reading ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig – a story about Nora whose life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. It raises the ultimate question: With infinite choices, what is the best way to live?

Reading the book through lockdown proved to be highly thought-provoking, especially when so many of us were missing out on living the lives we’d dreamt of living.

Neil Dawkins – Studio Manager

As a child of the 60s/70s, I worked my way through all the Enid Blyton books from the local library, but when I was given Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, (two books in one), it was a real game-changer.

I loved the way Lewis Carroll drew me into his fantasy world, and the illustrations by John Tenniel were amazing.

I even learnt the poem Jabberwocky, which I can still recite mostly to this day. And I remember drawing the creature on my school desk in biro and making a Mad Hatter’s hat out of cardboard for a fancy-dress party. It’d be fair to say the book had a real impact on my life at the time.

It’s amazing how great and powerful stories have stayed with us – conjuring up some great memories and influencing our thoughts and lives.

We hope our reminiscences inspire you to read more. Start now, by reading our blog – ‘Everyone loves a story’.

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