A young Iron Age warrior has joined our campaign to raise the final £1.5 million needed to create a national centre for children’s literature and storytelling at Moat Brae – where Peter Pan began.
Moniaive-based author Susan Palmer-Jones has been so inspired by the project that she is donating the proceeds from her new children’s book The Adventures of Seabrave to help make it happen.
The book, which was launched last week to an enthusiastic reception by pupils at Dumfries High School, tells the tale of an Irish boy growing up around 2,000 years ago.
Susan said: “I have close connections with Moat Brae House – my mother was born there and my father was a doctor there in the days when it was a hospital.
“In fact, my mother’s nickname as a little girl was Peter Pan, because her parents told her she was found under a bush in the garden – the place which inspired J M Barrie’s story.
“There’s something magical about the house and garden and children’s literature is a very good cause. As a writer I think it’s vital to get children reading as soon as possible – it will give them a lifetime of pleasure.
“I really wanted to find a way to support what the trust is doing at Moat Brae and thought that Seabrave could help.”
The book is a spin-off from her adult fiction series The Britlings and came about because readers asked to know more about some of the characters and also suggested that Susan should create adventures for young people as well as adults.
The new books are a return to the literary scene for Susan, who was featured on the cover of Vogue in 1969, as one of the UK’s up-and-coming authors – the magazine’s photographer having turned up on her wedding day.
Susan has a fascination with the Iron Age and has researched life in the period to ensure her stories are authentic as well as enjoyable.
Seabrave’s life is, perhaps, very appealing to young people because he does not have to go to school but learns about the world, and how to fight and survive, from a variety of fascinating characters, including a druid.
Cathy Agnew, Project Development Director for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, said: “Support like this is absolutely fantastic. Susan has spent a huge amount of time writing Seabrave, and to donate the proceeds of the book to us is incredibly generous. This is just the sort of thing that highlights how much support and enthusiasm there is for our project and is typical of the imaginative activities and events already being inspired by Moat Brae and a taste of things to come.”
The PPMBT appeal will see Moat Brae House restored with the addition of a café, shop and education/performance spaces. The Neverland-themed Discovery Garden will celebrate the importance of play and adventure. Creative planting and artistic installations will celebrate the heritage, characters and stories of childhood.
A total of £4m of the £5.5m needed has already been secured and Trust patron Joanna Lumley last week launched the drive for the final funds with a special video which can be seen here.