"I was recently in a shop in Brighouse looking at birthday cards and a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Is it Bill Forde, the 'Sleezy Fox' and the 'Douglas Dragon' man?' I would like to say that I was able to put a face to her, but I wasn't. It turned out that she was a pupil at Lindley Junior School in Huddersfield during the early 1990's (The photo is of one of my visits to Lindley Junior School in the 1990's). In those days I was a well known children's author in Yorkshire, and I used to read in school assemblies throughout Yorkshire around five times weekly. When I retired from my job as a Probation Officer in 1995, it was usually twice daily (over 2000 assembly readings between 1990-2005). Between 1990 and 2002 I brought over 860 national and international celebrities and famous faces into Yorkshire schools to read from my books to the children.
One of the strange things about being a regular visitor to any school is that you grow with it. I recall reading to children at 'Battyeford First School' in Mirfield when I first started writing children's books. At the time, The late Princess Diana had contacted me and requested that I send her copies of my books 'Douglas the Dragon' and 'Sleezy the Fox' for her to read to her 9 and 7-year-old sons, Princes William and Harry, at their bedtimes. One of the many famous names read my books in Yorkshire schools during these years included the Queen's cousin, the late Earl of Harewood and the Countess (they read from my books on four occasions). It was the Earl who recommended my books as being suitable for the young Princes William and Harry to Princess Diana. It is a gratifying feeling for any author to know that their book has been read to a future King of England by a Princess and read in four schools by a royal cousin to the Queen.
Following her royal endorsement of my stories about the dragon and the fox, the books sold like hot cakes throughout Yorkshire schools. There were approximately over 100,000 copies sold in Yorkshire schools alone; faster than we could print them, and with all profits from their sales going to charity.
Four years ago, Prince George was born to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Two year ago, the royal couple parented their daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. I felt it would be remiss not to send the Prince and Duchess of Cambridgeshire a copy of the two books that Princess Diana used to read to her children William and Harry when they were young. Two years ago, the wheel of life also turned full circle regarding my readings of 'Sleezy the Fox' and 'Douglas the Dragon' in Yorkshire schools.
When I last read to an assembly of children at 'Battyeford First School', sitting in the front row at the time was my daughter Rebecca and her best friend, Karen. Were I to walk into 'Battyeford First School' today, I would be able to see Karen's youngest son sitting a few rows back and Karen working as a teacher's assistant. Were I to walk into Karen's house this teatime, sitting opposite her at the table, I'd see my son Adam. He and Karen have been an item for the past year now and are expecting their first child in March 2018. It is Karen's birthday next week, and before my next grandchild is born, I will have published my next book which includes her as a character in the story and which is dedicated to her. It will be something to remind her of an old granddad she once had.
When I first wrote 'Sleezy the Fox', the book was dedicated to my sons James and Adam. Anyone wanting to hear the four fox stories or the four dragon stories for free can access these stories, which are professionally read, from my website by following the links below. The stories are suitable for being 'read to' 5-7-year-olds or being 'read by' 7-11-year-olds:
Or alternately, the stories can be bought in e-book format from www.smashwords.com or in hard copy from www.lulu.com and www.amazon.co.uk with all profits from their sales going to charitable causes in perpetuity. They make good Christmas presents for young readers who like stories with a moral." William Forde: December 29th, 2017.