Shrivenham-based author, Kirsty Marvell has published ‘Soldier Oli,’ a colourful rhyming book for two to eight year olds, telling the story of what it’s like when a family member goes on a military tour of duty.
The idea came to Kirsty, right, when her husband, Major Oli Stokes of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, went on operational duties in Iraq when their son was only nine months old.
“I wanted to explain to children the journey that soldiers undergo after their loved ones wave goodbye at the barracks,” explained Kirsty. “I also wanted to encourage letter writing, phone calls, and e-blueys (the Forces’ email system) as these are great ways to show they are in each other’s thoughts.”
Being apart for long periods of time is obviously very challenging, but Kirsty acknowledges the support of army welfare offices, and how sharing experiences with others in the same situation makes things a bit easier. “It is the same for children. On a married patch it’s useful to have other children and friends around who are going through the same thing. ‘Soldier Oli’ provides children with reassurance that their loved one will come back.”
Kirsty thinks her book is unique in Britain; in the USA there are a lot more resources available for children to come to terms with deployment.
“It’s a shame that there are no recent children’s books about soldiers when there are stories with central characters from so many other professions like Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam.”
Soldier Oli is available from Kirsty’s website, www.soldieroli.com or from Amazon. It costs £5, including postage and packing, with 50p from every sale going to the Army Benevolent Fund.
Soldier Oli available with Heroes wrist band
West Swindon based Primary Classroom Resources is selling Kirsty’s book as well as coloured wristbands in aid of Help for Heroes, which helps injured military personnel.
Call into 81 Basepoint, Rivermead Drive, Westlea to buy Soldier Oli and a wristband or online at: www.primaryclassroomresources.co.uk