Chronicles

Wallsend mum becomes a published author three years after losing battle with cancer

It was once an untold tale scribbled in a notebook and stored away in a Tyneside home.

But now ‘The Bug Detective’ by Anne Marie Sherburn is helping children around the world fall in love with reading.

The literary work of the former seamstress remained undiscovered until 2019, when she lost her three-year battle with lung cancer, aged 66.

And now her daughter-in-law Clare Vickers has published the children’s adventure story in her memory, after it was discovered in a box of letters while clearing out her home, in Wallsend.

Clare, 35, said: “Anne was a pillar of strength and it was such a shock when she died because we weren’t expecting it. Every day she got up, got dressed, and just got on with life – everyone loved her.”

She added: “It’s lovely to think she’s left behind this legacy, which is not just something her future grandchildren can enjoy, but also generations of other children.

“She’s helping children to learn and it’s just reflective of the nurturing, caring person she was.”

Anne Marie Sherburn and Clare Vickers who have published The Bug Detective

Anne, who owned Simply Fabrics on Wallsend High Street, never told her family about the children’s story she created, or her reason behind the tale.

Her notebook also hinted to a sequel, but it is believed she never had the chance to write it.

‘The Bug Detective’ follows a team of bugs as they search for their missing friend, Carter the Caterpillar, who disappeared after returning to his tree stump for a nap.

With no luck, they enlist the help of Barney the Bloodhound, also known as the bug detective, to help trace Carter who is wrapped in a cocoon waiting to transform into a butterfly.

Clare adored the story and intended to print two copies of the book, as well as an illustration of Anne for her fiancé, Luke, 33, who is the youngest of Anne’s three sons.

The couple are due to be married in October, after seven years together, and Clare wanted to surprise her husband-to-be with a gift from “the first woman who ever loved him”.

She tracked down illustrator, Julie Wilson, who she met through her role as a deputy manager at Willow Brook assisted living, in Washington.

And following interest from friends, family and the local community she decided to launch a Facebook group to sell the book, with all money donated to Cancer Research in Anne’s memory.

Within two weeks of publication, Clare sold 360 books and raised £847 for charity, with books sold across the UK, as well as America and Australia.

It has also been used in schools in the North East to teach children about the use of question marks, and one buyer donated 10 copies to a women’s refuge.

Clare added: “If Anne knew how far the book had gone she would be absolutely gobsmacked.

“The woman would give you her last so the fact the money is going to charity is something she’d be so happy about.

“She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known and I hear millions of stories about how loving and generous she was.

“She once let someone pay with tomatoes at her fabric shop because that’s all they had, she was just so kind and genuine.”

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