Westcountry author writes 'Tales From The Lockdown' to raise money for Hospice UK

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Authored by Mary
Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 20:44

A well known Westcountry journalist and writer has used the power of his pen during the lockdown to raise money for a health charity.

In doing so, newspaper columnist Martin Hesp believes he is the first person to write a book filled with stories which focus solely on the coronavirus lockdown and to publish the work while the pandemic continues.

“I wrote Tales From The Lockdown in the first 30 days after the nation was told to stay at home,” says Martin, who is Editorial Director of RAW Food and Drink PR. “It is subtitled Six Short Stories of Rural Life Written During the Coronavirus - and what I attempted to do was dream up half-a-dozen scenarios which could only happen during this unique period.

“The people and narratives in the stories are fictitious, but they all have some loose basis in real life - either anecdotes I’ve heard about through the social-media grapevine, or old stories I’ve adapted to suit this extraordinary shutdown.

“There have apparently been a couple of other books launched about the pandemic during the past few weeks, but I understand they were actually written some time before and have simply been updated and adapted to meet present day events. My stories were all written during April and they focus on occurrences that could only happen in these weird times.”

Tales From the Lockdown is available on Amazon as either an ebook or a paperback - and profits from both are being donated to Hospice UK.

The charity’s head of communications and campaigns, Toby Scott, commented: “Hospices are playing a vital role in caring for people affected by terminal illness, and are working closely with the NHS to make sure that people continue to get the care they need during the pandemic.

“Long-term funding for hospices always has relied on support from individuals and communities, and with shops closed and events cancelled, Martin’s generosity and sales of his book will make a difference.

“It’s important that people support hospices however they can, and with the launch of this book people have another way to help and have a good read at the same time,” said Mr Scott.

The short stories are all Westcountry based. “I can only write what I know about - I am sure being in lockdown in a big city must be very different from self-isolation in the countryside,” says Martin.

“My wife and I live in a relatively remote valley inside Exmoor National Park, so we decided to follow the lockdown to the letter as we could see no reason to put ourselves at risk or add to the problems faced by the NHS. But, in some ways, I’ve been self-isolating in the valley for the past 20 years as I always worked from home during the two decades I was on the staff of the WMN.  

“But I did an enormous amount of travelling around this mainly rural region during those two decades, and these stories reflect some of the people and incidents I discovered over that time.

“There’s a story about a man who decides to walk right across the peninsula on the Two Moors Way so that he can visit his elderly mother during the lockdown. Another concerns a lady parish councillor who takes it upon herself to go around her village using a megaphone to harangue people who, according to government decree, should not be staying in their holiday cottages.

“Then there’s the wealthy woman who is having an illicit affair with a local farmer - which of course comes to an abrupt end thanks to lockdown. There’s even a famous regional TV personality - based on no one I know - who gets into all sorts of trouble covering the pandemic, but who actually finds a new life because of it.

“In fact, for the most part the stories have a positive spin. The public has been treated to enough news coverage when it comes to the medical horrors of this frightening virus - I wanted to explore the social ramifications that a lockdown could present.  

“I may add more short stories as time goes on - but I decided to hand over all profits of this first edition to Hospice UK because I saw a TV news report that suggested the hospices were being overlooked in terms of charitable donations during the present crisis. As my dear old dad passed away at St Margaret’s Hospice in Taunton just a few years ago, I know about the incredibly important work they do.”

Tales From The Lockdown is available on Amazon at £2.49 for the ebook, or £4.99 for the paperback.

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