Romford mum publishes children's book during the pandemic
- Credit: Leyla Clayden
A Romford hospice worker has written a children’s book in the pandemic to encourage youngsters to eat healthily and help their community.
Marketing campaigns manager at Saint Francis Hospice, Leyla Clayden, published The Cream Of The Crop and The Garden Shop in December while she was on furlough.
She was inspired by her sons Jensen, six, and Aston, four, who developed a love for gardening last spring and grew their own tomatoes
The story follows two little boys who notice that the supermarkets are empty during a global pandemic and make it their mission to grow their own fruit and vegetables to help feed their local community.
Leyla told the Recorder: “The messages are healthy eating, spreading kindness and never giving up on a dream.
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“If just one child is inspired to eat healthily, or they want to give back to their local community, or they want to get out in the garden and grow their own fruit and vegetables - that in itself is incredibly rewarding and exactly what I set out to achieve.”
Her colleague at the hospice, Stephen Timms, illustrated the book, working over the weekends to fit it around his day job as a graphic designer.
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Leyla’s ambition to write was inspired by a teacher during her time at Clockhouse Primary School in Collier Row, who said she would make a good journalist.
She said creative writing remained in the back of her mind: “One of the things I love about being a mum is our bedtime stories and seeing how a book can capture their imagination.
"It's exciting to know that my own book is now on bookshelves and in five national libraries."
The author is now back at work, but husband Spencer remains furloughed from his job as a pilot and has taken the lead on homeschooling.
Leyla is donating all the profits from her book sales in April to Saint Francis Hospice.
She explained: “(It’s) my way of giving back to the local community and to our amazing local charity.”