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Simeon, who joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers twenty-six years ago. He worked his way up through the ranks while also completing a degree in IT and Systems and a masters in technology, and he was awarded an MBE for his courage and leadership during the conflict in Sarajevo.


“I just fell head-over-heels madly in love with him,” says Amanda. “I thought all that stuff about love at first sight was a load of pants until I met Simeon. I was a single parent with my son Josh, and Simeon was on his own with his son Ben and we met on a touchline watching them play rugby for their school team. I already knew Ben as he was in the same class as Josh and I used to have him over to stay, so I knew Ben before I knew Simeon!”


Both boys were then aged about eight. They are now aged 14 and still attend the same school. Meeting Simeon gave Amanda the opportunity – and the self-belief – to follow her dream of becoming a writer. She explains: “I’ve always written, but I didn’t have the confidence to follow my dream, and because I was a single mum my focus was on earning as much money as I could to look after my child.”


Amanda was working as a management consultant, advising companies in America and Europe, but what she really wanted was to be at home with Josh. “I was this person in a suit, but it didn’t feel like the real me. I would come back and spend a couple of days with Josh and then have to leave again. I would sob all the way to the airport,” she says. Now she is able to stay at home, while Simeon goes away – something she admits she finds very difficult.


“Simeon goes away a lot and he has a very dangerous job. Every time he goes away I exist rather than live. I just have to plough through it,” she says. “Not much has ever been written about what it’s like for the person who is left back at home – what it’s like for the wives and partners, and that’s one of the things I’ve tried to do in Poppy Day.”


Amanda started writing Poppy Day in 2008 when Simeon was about to be deployed to Iraq. “I always get a horrible sense of foreboding when he goes away,” she says. “IED’s weren’t such a big thing in Iraq as they are in Afghanistan but there was a big fear of a western soldier being taken hostage.


“There was an interview with the father of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was


www.raf-ff.org.uk


captured by Hamas militants, and he said that he wished he could be the one to bring him home. “That really struck a chord with me. I said to Simeon: ‘If anything happened to you when you were away, I would come and get you’. He said to me: ‘I know you would’. He knows that I would go to the ends of the earth for him.”


“I was well over halfway through writing it by the time he came back. I said: ‘What do you think of it?’. Simeon said he thought it was fantastic.”


And it is: a compelling, poignant, story with intricately observed characters, a dramatic plot, and clever sub-plots. I ended up carrying the book around the house with me one evening: reading it as I was making supper, and sitting on the stairs reading it while my children were getting ready for bed, because I didn’t want to put it down.


Amanda observes: “We are all so busy. Everyone has got deadlines and demanding jobs and things to do. But if the phone rings and someone on the other end tells you that your child has had a serious accident or your father is very ill you’ll drop everything to go to them. Poppy Day is about that sort of emotion magnified – about getting to someone no matter what.”


Simeon, who is currently training soldiers who will be going to fight in Afghanistan, says: “For the first time I really realised the emotions that are gone through by those left behind. The book really brings it home to you.”


Amanda Prowse is publishing Poppy Day through the British Legion, despite having the opportunity to be signed up by a bigger publisher. “It means the British Legion will get a greater share of the royalties,” she explains.


The British Legion is spending £30 million on creating and running a state of the art facility called the Battle Back Centre, which will be opened in 2012 and will use sport and adventure activities to assist the recovery of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.


Amanda says: “Every copy of Poppy Day sold is a brick towards building the centre – that’s the way we look at it. Fifteen books sold mean some more bricks can be laid in the walls.”


Doesn’t she mind that she won’t make any money from her book? “To be honest we’ve


got everything we need. We’ve got healthy, happy kids and we’ve got each other,” says Amanda. “If you are given a skill or a talent I believe that you have to use it for good, and the money raised from Poppy Day can really make a difference, as for every soldier who is killed there are also five or six who suffer life-changing injuries.”


Simeon adds: “We’re not very materialistic. We’ve got a battered old VW Golf, but the people who will be helped at the Battle Back Centre need the money more than we need a new car.”


Amanda hopes to help other charitable causes in the future by publishing other books she has written, which are all linked to different charitable causes, all yet to be published.


“They are all interlinked, and little characters from some books will become big characters in other books,” she says. “Some books are prequels, so in another book readers will be able to see Poppy before she became an Army wife.”


Poppy Day by Amanda Prowse is published by TIP Limited. Price £8.99 paperback. The book is available on www.amazon.co.uk and from the RBL Poppy Shop at: www. poppyshop.org.uk/poppy-day


To Follow Amanda on Twitter go to: @PoppyArmyWife. Poppy Day is also on Facebook and there is a website at www.poppyday.co.uk


The RAF FF would like to thank Suzanne Savill and the Bristol Evening Post for allowing them to use parts of their interview. 


Envoy Winter 2011 17


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