Norfolk illustrator helps couple fulfil children’s books dream
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk illustrator has helped a couple launch their children’s book series, which is inspired by their true life events across Europe.
Esther Dingley, 37, and her partner Dan Colegate, 38, have written five children’s stories and a compilation inspired by their travels, after the pair paused their jobs and drove away from their Durham home in a second-hand campervan following a serious health scare in 2014, which they said kickstarted an “unexpected direction of adventures.”
In 2017 the pair crossed paths with a ginger and white stray dog on the Southern Coast of Spain, who they decided to make room for in their motorhome and named her Leela.
Leela was pregnant with six puppies and they were soon joined by Bella, George, Rose, Pati, Teddy and Jess.
Ms Dingley said: “We committed to raising them and finding them good homes. Bella, George, Pati and Rose stayed and joined our travelling team for the next three years.
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“Two humans and five dogs all having incredible adventures as we travelled through Europe.
“From the beautiful sandy beaches of Spain, to chasing butterflies through sunflower fields in rural France, to riding cable cars up into the snowy mountains of Switzerland, they spread smiles wherever they went.”
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These adventures combined with “the joy and love from the pups” led Mr Colegate to write the first story as a present to Ms Dingley.
The travel writer put out requests for help to create the books and came across artist Kim Prior, from Hilgay, near Downham Market.
Mrs Prior answered her call and spent months working with the pair to bring their stories to life.
The retired King’s School teacher, who has a passion for art and crafts, has completed commissions for books and portraits of pets, places and people.
Mrs Prior said: “It was easy for me to create ideas as the stories are so charmingly written and I was impressed with Esther’s enthusiasm and story of how the dogs came into their lives which spurred me on to help them.
“We have been very pleased with the final result of the printed books. Already my family and friends have enjoyed reading them to their children.”
The pair hope the “heartwarming messages” in the books, which are available on Amazon, will touch both children and adults.