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BBC broadcaster to visit Norfolk and Suffolk with tales of fox friendship

PUBLISHED: 16:10 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 30 April 2018

Gaspard makes regular visits to Zeb Soanes' London home and the pair have formed a strong friendship. Picture: Zeb Soanes

Gaspard makes regular visits to Zeb Soanes' London home and the pair have formed a strong friendship. Picture: Zeb Soanes

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A broadcaster with roots close to home will return to the region having written a book about his friendship with a fox.

Gaspard The Fox had such a profound on newsreader Zeb Soanes' life that he decided to write a series of childrens books about her urban adventures. Picture: Dan HallGaspard The Fox had such a profound on newsreader Zeb Soanes' life that he decided to write a series of childrens books about her urban adventures. Picture: Dan Hall

Lowestoft-born Zeb Soanes, who is widely recognised as the voice of the Shipping Forecast, befriended an urban fox named Gaspard when she (initially thought to be a ‘he’) began appearing on the doorstep of his London home.

The fox had such a profound on his life that the newsreader decided to write a series of children’s books about Gaspard’s adventures, aimed at teaching younger readers about the life of an urban fox.

Gaspard The Fox with the book all about his adventures. Picture: Zeb SoanesGaspard The Fox with the book all about his adventures. Picture: Zeb Soanes

With the first set to be published on May 17, Mr Soanes will be visiting various locations in Norfolk and Suffolk alongside illustrator James Mayhew to speak to children about the wonder of these intriguing animals.

“We thought it would be great to take the book back to one of our schools and talk to children about foxes and their urban experiences,” said Mr Soanes. “James went to Blundeston Primary School and hasn’t been back for 40 years, so we’ve made that one of our stops.

Mr Soanes will be speaking to children in Norfolk and Suffolk alongside illustrator James Mayhew all about urban foxes. Picture: Zeb SoanesMr Soanes will be speaking to children in Norfolk and Suffolk alongside illustrator James Mayhew all about urban foxes. Picture: Zeb Soanes

“What a lot of children in the countryside don’t realise is how many thousands of foxes there are in cities. There’s something magical about being able to have that connection with something wild in the middle of a city.”

Gaspard has become something of a social media star, boasting nearly 5,000 Twitter followers, while two more books about her escapades are already in the pipeline.

The BBC broadcaster grew up in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe BBC broadcaster grew up in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Mr Soanes highlighted that one of the pleasures of writing the series has been the partnership formed with Mr Mayhew, who is also from Lowestoft.

He said: “James and I both understand the place we’re from and we can relate when it comes to so many things because we grew up with the same libraries and the same books.

The front cover for Zeb Soanes' first Gaspard The Fox book. Picture: James Mayhew/Graffeg LtdThe front cover for Zeb Soanes' first Gaspard The Fox book. Picture: James Mayhew/Graffeg Ltd

“It’s very unusual for an illustrator and author to have such a close connection, so this has been a lovely process.”

Mr Soanes and Mr Mayhew will visit Blundeston Primary on May 25, before hosting storytelling and fox painting sessions at Lowestoft Library (11am) and The Book Hive in Norwich (2pm) on May 26. On Sunday, May 27, they will be at Sparrow’s Nest Park in Lowestoft at approximately 11.30am as part of Grit Fest, where there will be a Gaspard treasure hunt.

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