Royal acclaim for Wigan man's books for children
A Wigan man who wrote and illustrated his own stories during lockdown has won acclaim from royalty and a legendary children’s TV show.
Simon Rudd has published around 50 children’s books and used the money to buy food parcels for local people who needed help during the pandemic.
And he has also given copies away to hospitals and schools to help keep people entertained.
So popular have they become that he has been given a Blue Peter award and one of them has been read by the Duchess of York on her YouTube channel.
He said: “I sent the original book off to a few publishers, who said it would cost about £3,000, which I didn’t have, so I did it myself for free. Every month I get royalties, which we have used to buy stuff to help others.
“It is a hobby, but my wife and I thought it’d be good to buy essentials for people and drop them off on their doorsteps, because there were shortages of certain items when we first started.
“The first one sold quite well, so we had plenty of money for parcels. I’ve never kept a penny of it, it all goes to those who need a little bit of support. The last thing we did was a book for Red Nose Day to raise money.”
Prior to the first national lockdown, Mr Rudd worked as a security guard.
Due to his hour being reduced he started doodling sketches on his days, with the books taking shape from there.
“Two years ago I wouldn’t have had the time or even would’ve thought about it.
“I just used to draw on pieces of paper if I was on the telephone or something, but I’d never done anything like this before, lockdown just brought it out of me.
“My drawings are kind of like Mr Men characters. My wife said they would make a good book, so I ended up putting one together. Since then I’ve had over 45 books published and 60 ready to go on my computer. It has become an entire world.
“I’m proud of them all, there’s something for everyone. I think my favourite has to be Odd Socks because a lot of people like the characters.”
The books have attracted plenty of interest, including from Sarah Ferguson who read one on her YouTube channel. They have also created their own fanbase of readers, with an array of different messages and gifts being sent to Mr Rudd.
“I had a few parents on Instagram contacting me asking would I turn my egg characters into individual stories, so I took time to develop them a little bit more.
“People also send me things, like bookmarks, knitted characters and teddy bears. The books have their own cult following. One fan wrote to Blue Peter, and they gave me an award.”