A LIFE-LONG dream came true for one 80-year-old woman, whose family and friends gave her a birthday surprise by telling her she’s now a published author.
Cynthia Whittle, from Drayton, spent 30 years in Africa with husband Patrick, and wrote a short story for children during her time there.
She always wished it to be published and at Meon Infant School in Portsmouth, found out it had been, when on a weekly visit as part of Portsmouth Football Club’s Faith and Football reading club project, Extra Time.
Paul Whittle, Cynthia’s son, said: ‘At Christmas our family saw the TV documentary about Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, which supports orphaned children in Lesotho, one of the southern African countries where my parents lived.
‘It emerged that my mother had written a short story 30 years ago but never progressed it. The family uncovered the manuscript and arranged to have it published with the support of Sentebale for her 80th.
‘She and my father visit Meon Infant School in Portsmouth every week, and work with one of charity Faith and Football’s creators Mick Mellows, who is also a Pompey legend. Extra Time helps children at local schools improve their reading.
‘Cynthia got the shock of her life when we told her the news, Mick even arranged for Pompey player Amine Linganzi, who is from Africa, to be there.’
Cynthia’s book is called Dora the Dassie and is about a rabbit in Africa, complete with original illustrations.
She got to read her story to the 10 Meon children, who were gripped by it.
Cynthia said: ‘I was flabbergasted, what a wonderful, unforgettable experience.
‘If you’d asked me what the one thing I wanted to tick off my bucket list was, having my story published would have been it... now it’s been done.
‘It was wonderful to see the excitement on the children’s faces as they heard my story.’
‘I’m so grateful. I want to thank Mick and Naomi Thakur from the Faith and Football office.’
All proceeds from the £5 book will go to Sentebale and Faith and Football.
To get a copy, e-mail