87-year-old publishes his children's bedtime stories to raise money for Wiltshire hospice

An 87-year-old from Wiltshire has delighted readers around the world after publishing the stories he used to tell his children 40 years ago.

Gerry Ford imagined many adventurous tales during bedtime for his two children and has now published the special collection, entitled Animal Stories.

He is raising money for Dorothy House Hospice, based in Bradford-on-Avon, which cared for his beloved wife Barbara who died 10 years ago.

Gerry is now a resident at Abbeyfield House in Westbury which is managed by the Abbeyfield Society.

Gerry and Barbara were married for 51 years Credit: Gerry Ford

Gerry said: "My wife, Barbara, sadly had a brain tumour. The staff at Dorothy House looked after her day and night at the end of her life, so £2 from each book goes to them.

"We were happily married for 51 years and it was a true love affair. I remember seeing her across the room at a party we attended, and by the end of our first date, we were head-over-heels in love.

"My children are very proud of me, and I'm sure Barbara would very happy that the stories I used to tell them are still delighting people today."

The number of patients with Dorothy House Hospice has increased by 16% since January 2022

He added: "When I got home, my kids were already fed, bathed and waiting for daddy to tell them a bedtime story".

"I initially wrote seven of them down, as I was a fair copywriter, and thought about getting them published, but they weren't illustrated at that point, and at £50 a cartoon it wasn't something I could afford."

So he put the idea to one side and the stories stayed stashed away for decades.

But when Gerry decided to publish the collection to help the hospice, his friend kindly, Paul Downey kindly offered to illustrate the book for free - and as Gerry said "really helps bring the characters to life."

Dorothy House Hospice cares for around 300 people at any one time. It has 10 inpatient beds but most are cared for in their own homes around Wiltshire, Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset (BANES).

James Byron, director of marketing and engagement at Dorothy House Hospice, said the team is so grateful to Gerry and his fundraising efforts.

Readers from around the world have been enjoying Animal Stories

Since January 2022, the number of patients being cared for has increased by 16% and with costs rising, extra funding is crucial.

James said: "The cost of delivering our services have gone up, as have costs for everyone living in our community.

"So we're even more grateful that people, like Gerry, continue to support us because without them - we simply couldn't care for the number of people that we do.

"What Gerry shows is that everyone can do something different to help. These are stories he told his own children and now decades later, he's turned them into something which is helping us and in memory of Barbara"

Characters in the book include Baby Elephant, Donkey and Max the Kitten, but Gerry's favourite is a puppy called Sam, who goes on a visit to Durdle Door on the Dorset coast with his family.

So far, Animal Stories has raised £1,000 for Dorothy House Hospice and Gerry hopes many more will buy a copy so that he can continuing supporting a cause so close to his heart.

  • Gerry is selling Animal Stories for £6 (plus £1.50 P&P) - £2 of which goes directly to Dorothy House Hospice Care. To order a copy, please write to him at: Gerry Ford, C/o 29 Gibbs Leaze, Hilperton, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 7QN. Or you can write a cheque payable to Mr. G Ford.