A STRATFORD-upon-Avon man who is terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease has written his debut children’s book, based on the true and moving story of Olive, an extraordinary puppy who was born disabled.
Stuart Neath of Shipston Road, aged 54, lived a very active life and served in the Army as an officer serving in the infantry for 12 years before he was medically discharged.
He then worked for a management consultancy in London for several years before setting up as an independent consultant in 2003.
But in June 2016 he was diagnosed as being terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease and has been told that he has between three to five years left to live.
“I was devastated,” Stuart told the Herald. “My friends have told me that I packed 85 years of life into my 54 years of living. I have had a partner for three years and she’s devastated too. If I didn’t have Motor Neurones thing would have been very different we would have moved forward in a very different way.”
When he was diagnosed Stuart decided to achieve a life-long goal and write a children’s book because he knew he was going to have a little time on his hands.
It’s based on the true and moving story of Olive, (which is also the title of the book), an extraordinary puppy who was born disabled. Stuart is a patient at The Shakespeare Hospice and is donating all sales of his book to the hospice.
The illustrated book was written by Stuart to help children understand the challenges of being ‘different.’ For children aged between 8 to12, it tells the story of a clever, strong and determined Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy and her poignant journey from discovering that she’s unlike her brothers and sisters to how she learns to cope with her condition.
This heart-warming story was inspired by a real dog, born with Cerebellar Ataxia. Olive’s original owner was advised to have her put to sleep, but after meeting her, Stuart’s brother, Duncan, fell in love at first sight, and he embarked on a mission to give her a safe and loving home. Olive is now a thriving, happy dog who is dearly loved by Duncan and his family.
“She’s a real character and celebrated her sixth birthday this week,” Stuart said. “We go out for walks together, me in my wheel chair, Olive by my side with my brother Duncan and we like to go to the theatre café.”
He sees the book as his legacy to the hospice which he describes as “amazing.”
“The staff, the physicians, the volunteers do an amazing job, they really put themselves out to help people,” he said.
The book is on sale for £10 on the Shakespeare Hospice’s website at: www.theshakespearehospice.org.uk/Product/olive-by-stuart-neath-olive.