I have always dreamed of being an author. I can write. But I lack an unleashed imagination to produce anything more than a solid but dry, document. Producing a regular blog has sparked some creative juices and I’ve enjoyed thinking of new and creative ways to share our Purple story.
To celebrate World Book Day on Thursday, I wanted to introduce my friend, Ian Parker. Ian is not an author but even more impressive – he is an illustrator. He recently completed two years hard work to produce all the illustrations for a book entitled Danny’s Dream.
Ian and I met when I was six months and he was just over a year old. We went to the same boarding school, as in those days that is where disabled children went. From a young age, I was always the talker, the front of stage kind of friend. Ian was the artist in every way and painted with a brush in his mouth.
Ian was always going to be an artist and through the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) that has been his career. Becoming an illustrator for a book is about bringing the story to life. Just ask David Walliams the importance of Tony Ross in his success or Julia Donaldson about the value of Axel Scheffler.
In the same way I suspect Victor Margiotta would say the same about Ian. Without a need for a spoiler alert, the story focuses around a superhero named Danny. It just so happens Danny is a wheelchair user and the tag superhero isn’t what is often associated with disabled people doing ordinary things. However, the book was inspired by the Paralympics. Danny reflects 83% of the disabled population who acquire their disability during their life.
For me the book is about having ambitions in life and not being blown off course when things inevitably don’t go as planned. First and foremost, disabled people are people. I haven’t got the exact reference to hand, but work undertaken by Tina Burchardt at the start of this millennium showed that disabled and non-disabled teens aged around 16 shared the same level of dreams and ambitions, but by the time disabled people reached 25 they were three times more likely to believe their ambitions would simply not happen. For me, it was one of those light bulb moments which is why I am so passionate about access to education and employment opportunities.
The acid test of a children’s book is the reaction of children who read it. My seven-year-old Daniel loved it. Apart form saying it is about ‘one of your friends(!)’ he really engaged with the interaction of people and their surrounding exotic animals – and of course which was brought to life by the illustrations.
Have a great World Book Day.
Mike Adams OBE
Chief Executive Officer
3 March 2020