A MOTOR Neurone Disease sufferer from Stratford has written a book to help children understand the challenges of ‘being different’.
Shakespeare Hospice patient Stuart Heath is also donating all proceeds from sales of his lavishly-illustrated children’s book Olive to the Shottery-based hospice.
The book, for children aged between eight and 12, is based on the true and moving story of Olive, an extraordinary puppy who was born disabled.
The book tells the tale of a clever, strong and determined Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy and her poignant journey, from discovering that she’s unlike her brothers and sisters, to how she learns to cope with her condition. Olive learns from watching the humans around her and uses this knowledge to shape her life and deal with how others treat her.
The heart-warming story was inspired by a real dog born with the brain condition Cerebellar Ataxia. Olive’s original owner was advised to have her put to sleep, but after meeting her, Stuart’s brother, Duncan, fell in love at first sight, and he embarked on a mission to give her a safe and loving home.
Five years later, Olive is a thriving, happy dog who is dearly loved by Duncan and his family.
Former solider Stuart, who was taken ill three year ago, says that his illness, although devastating, allowed him to explore other avenues, including fulfilling his life-long ambition of writing a children’s book.
The 54 year-old said: “Disability is a difficult subject for children to understand, but hopefully Olive’s story will help them see it from a different and more positive perspective.
“I want them to realise that it’s important to treat disabled people with respect and as equals.”
Stuart, who worked as a management consultant after being medically discharged from the army after 12 years serving as an officer,
dedicated the book to his nieces Celyn and Tirion, to all the staff at The Shakespeare Hospice, and to Olive.
Clare Stead, registered general nurse at the hospice, said: “Stuart is a much loved and admired patient here. He is always positive and smiling. We are deeply touched by his book dedication and immensely grateful for his generous offer of donating sales to the hospice.”
Visit www.theshakespearehospice.org.uk/Product/olive-by-stuart-neath-olive to buy the book on sale for £10.