Alderney marine scientist turns author in lockdown to help her son read

CONCERNED during lockdown that her son was not developing his reading skills, an Alderney doctor in marine science turned her hand to becoming an author and illustrator to help him.

Doctor Mel Broadurst-Allen with her five-year-old son Sandy and his 22-month-old sister reading her book.
Doctor Mel Broadurst-Allen with her five-year-old son Sandy and his 22-month-old sister reading her book.

Dr Mel Broadhurst-Allen published her book, Best Pals, at the end of September and her son is thrilled as are three environmental charities which take a share of the profits.

She said the idea came to her during the springtime of lockdown when she decided to create a reading book for her young son to continue his reading.

‘My son [Sandy] is five and had just started learning to read in his reception class at school,’ she said.

‘I was worried that during lockdown he would lose his new reading skills as the school couldn’t give us books, only worksheets.

‘So one night I got an old art pad and created two cool characters, a cat named Carl and a bee named Bell who are best pals.

‘The story is about who they are and what they love to do together, like going to the park, baking cakes – my son luckily loves it.’

She added it was a far cry from her usual day-to-day job.

‘I’m a doctor in marine science and work for the Alderney Wildlife Trust, so I’m usually on a beach recording marine animals and habitats,’ she said.

‘I hadn’t written a children’s book before, though I wanted to. I never had the time.

‘Wanting to help Sandy with his reading and having the time to [because of lockdown] helped me write this book.’

Dr Broadhurst-Allen said she had the text checked by teachers to ensure the content was appropriate for four- to six-year-olds, but drew the pictures herself before uploading it to Amazon, who print it on demand, to sell.

While the book only went online recently, the response has been positive.

‘I’ve had some amazing feedback about helping children to read, and I’m very humble about it,’ said Dr Broadhurst-Allen.

‘I’ve sold 50 copies, and for each book sold I receive £3 profit, which is split equally between three charities, so at the moment, the charities have £50 each.’

Those charities benefitting are the AWT for its conservation work where Dr Broadhurst-Allen lives, the Channel Islands Pollinator Project to help promote wildflowers and pollinators in Guernsey and the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which her son chose as he was ‘worried about the leopards during the lockdown’.

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