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OF INTEREST Great Reading for OurYoung Families By TomPalmer


The Wings series is about children who go back into the past to fly great RAF planes of history: the Sopwith Camel, Spitfire and the current Eurofighter Typhoon. Author,Tom Palmer has offered us aset to give away in this issue’s prize draw.Tom shares his story…


Ididn’t go looking to write aseries about children from RAF families: the idea came looking for me. In the shape of RAF children themselves.


Iwas working with Albrighton Primary,aschool very near RAF Cosford. The plan was to go into the school and talk to the children about reading for pleasure. But, as well as talking to children, you have to listen. And these children wanted to tell me about their lives. About their mums and dads working on the base, or about being deployed. What it was like being in a forces family.And why,they wanted to know,were there no stories about forces children being written by people like me?


At the time I’d just started writing aseries about aschool rugby team. Ineeded something more for the books. Sport is not enough for abook. Ididn’t need to think twice about it. Why not make my rugby books about children who had parents in the RAF? Give the Albrighton children what they wanted?


Iasked the children if they’d help me. Itold the teachers and some of the parents what Iwanted to do. Could they help me? Because there was no point in me writing the books without their support.


They couldn’t have been more helpful. Getting to work


I’ll never forget that afternoon sitting in aschool staff room listening to RAF parents telling me about their lives. Then their


children coming in and hearing about it from them too. How did they feel when aparent was deployed? What was it like when they had to move on to another school? What didn’t Iknow about their lives that Ineeded to know? It was deeply moving. I felt amassive responsibility to tell their story.And properly.


Iworked most of what the RAF families told me that afternoon into my Rugby Academy series. And, once Ihad written the first drafts, Ishowed the families the stories and they told me where I’d got it wrong. And right. Eventually Combat Zone, Surface to Air and Deadlocked were published in 2015.


We launched the books at the nearby RAF museum. Igave everyone copies of the books. Idedicated the first book to the school. There was even cake. It was the least Icould do.


Because writing those books led to me being taken on as the RAF Museums’ Writer in Residence. Inow work with the museum to create stories and events that will help visitors get more out of their visits to the museum.


That led to me writing another three RAF related books –and finding apublisher.


That’s six RAF books for children and counting. Youcan find out more about my work with the RAF Museums at http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/schools-and- colleges/writer-in-residence.aspx.


TomPalmer is the author of 40 books for children. www.tompalmer.co.uk and is offering his ‘Wings’ series (all 3books) as aprize to Envoy readers. To enter the draw, simply complete the tear off slip and send it in to Caroline Woodward, Envoy Competition, RAF Families Federation, 13-15 St Georges Road, Wittering, Peterborough PE8 6DL by midday on Friday 26th May 2017.


Envoy Magazine Competition


To enter the prize draw to win the Wings Series by TomPalmer,simply complete the following details and send in by midday on Friday 26th May


Please note the books are suitable for children aged between 8and 10 years of age. Name:....................................................................................................................................... Address:.................................................................................................................................... Postcode:..................................................................................................................................


Telephone (only if we have problems with your address):......................................................... We will not share your information with any other organisation(s) as we take the safety and security of our RAF families seriously.


www.raf-ff.org.uk Spring 2017 Envoy 39


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