Barry's Jumumblies set for world domination - with your help?

First published in News by

A BARRY granddad is hoping his series of environmentally and healthy living themed books will see publishing light for charity after launching a funding drive.

59-year-old Mark Dickenson has launched a Kickstarter fundraising drive to help bring his Jumumblies characters to life with money from book sales going to assist the work of The SAFE Foundation.

Mark’s daughter Lucy founded the charity in 2006, following a gap year trip to Uganda when she was 18 and saw how overseas aid did not always reach those who were stigmatised or disengaged from civil society.

Lucy was working with women farmers in Zambia when she was killed in a road accident in August 2012, aged 32 – leaving her twin sister Hannah, now the charity’s operations director, and family and friends devastated.

Lucy, also a talented song writer and musician, had loved the book idea and began helping out also with Hannah, but the project was put on hold following her death.

Now Mark, Hannah and the family are paying tribute to Lucy’s charitable nature by hoping others will support the dream they hope will engage children of pre-school age.

Mark said he thought writing a series of books for children that dealt with really important topics through simple stories would be good idea.

He said: “I played around for a bit, doodling and sketching, and pretty quickly had drawn our original Jumumbly – Arnold Pant – a mixture of an elephant and a panda. I made an initial list of subjects to tackle – deforestation, recycling, food waste, overeating, alternative power and quite a few more. I know, they sound a bit heavy for four-year-olds, but we only want to plant the seeds of an idea so that children can grow up with these characters and their values in a completely age appropriate way. My twin daughters were working for me at the time, both talented musicians and song writers, so I asked Lucy to write me an eight verse story in rhyming couplets about deforestation suitable for a four-year old. Half an hour later she had come up with the first draft of The Story of Arnold Pant.”

Lucy devised draft stories about recycling, energy conservation, water conservation, foraging, wind power, food waste and over-eating and then Mark asked Hannah to illustrate the books.

Mark said: “We had some strong storylines, cute characters, cracking illustrations, first book in draft form and a sound ethos to back it all up.

“We tested The Story of Arnold Pant in a bunch of pre and nursery schools in and around Cardiff and Bristol and they loved it.

Just under two years ago, Lucy died in a car accident while working in Zambia. Everything stopped. Since then, as we slowly try to come to terms with a very different world, the Jumumblies project has languished in the doldrums. But now it seems that the time is right to give ourselves a little kick up the backside and get things moving again, but everything is still in place, everything is ready to go. We are still ready to create something really worthwhile and lasting that that can grow, develop and evolve into something exceptional, and will be a fitting tribute to someone who was very, very special.”

The family need to raise £4500 to print the first run of Arnold Pant, finish the second book and get the whole project rolling.

People who donate will also have the opportunity to name jumumblies – what should a part tiger, part elephant be called?

For details on the project and how to donate, follow on Ttwitter @jumumblies and search Jumumblies on Facebook.

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