Anstee Bridge and Bounce Theatre were delighted to launch HOPE, a new children’s book, to friends, supporters and patrons, including local MP, Sir Ed Davey, at a special event in John Lewis on 1 October 2021.

HOPE is a story about a little girl whose world has turned grey. It rains so much it sweeps her up into the ocean. There she finds sea creatures with blankets of seaweed, paintbrushes, and wise words. Overnight, Hope learns the importance of being kind to herself and letting go of her worries.

The narrative was written by Louise Pendry from Bounce Theatre, inspired by the young people at Anstee Bridge and how they feel when they are there. The students worked with artists as restrictions relaxed to illustrate it.

Katherine Greening, Programme Leader at Anstee Bridge said:  “It was very emotional reading her words. They meant an awful lot to me after this last year. The aim of the book was for the students, many of whom struggled in primary school, to give something back to children who are that age now and are particularly stressed due to the pandemic. It’s a story very close to the young people’s hearts and they feel incredibly proud of it. It’s been a long road, with Covid we thought we’d never get here. But to see the book and hold it in your hand, it’s very rewarding and emotional.” 

Anstee Bridge has arranged a bespoke print run for local schools and groups to be part of HOPE and support Kingston Hospital Charity. Copies of the book and an accompanying zine will be sent to schools for children to draw and collage their own version of HOPE as a fund-raising activity. Children can design their own back covers – celebrating their own special qualities as part of the theme of the story. The art work can be shared in celebration with their sponsors.

Louise Pendry explained: “The last time we had an event with Anstee Bridge, before the pandemic, was to celebrate 70 years of the NHS in Kingston. Staff from the hospital gave time and support to help us. As we emerge from the pandemic, this is our chance to give something back.”