Ivor the Engine rides the rails again for veterinary charity

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A brand new "Ivor the Engine" story, the first in over thirty years, was unveiled today after a unique collaboration between Ivor's co-creator, Peter Firmin and Dan Postgate, son of the late Oliver Postgate who wrote the original Ivor stories.

I was a bit daunted by the prospect of slipping into my dad's Hush Puppies and composing a new story. I hope I've managed to summon up some of the flavour of the original Ivor tales. It was certainly a real thrill to get the stamp of authenticity by having my story illustrated by Peter Firmin.

A brand new “Ivor the Engine” story, the first in over thirty years, was unveiled today after a unique collaboration between Ivor’s co-creator, Peter Firmin and Dan Postgate, son of the late Oliver Postgate who wrote the original Ivor stories.

With brand new illustrations by Peter Firmin and words by Dan Postgate, “Bluebell’s Christmas Mission” is set in a snow-bound Wales on Christmas Day, and will benefit the work of UK veterinary charity SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad). SPANA provides free veterinary care to working animals like donkeys, mules and horses in some of the poorest countries of the world, and it’s fitting that the new story sees a central role for Bluebell the donkey, who figured prominently in the original Ivor stories.

SPANA Chief Executive Jeremy Hulme said, “We were absolutely delighted when Peter and Dan agreed to fire up Ivor once again and it’s been a real privilege to be part of this project. We didn’t know if it would ever happen initially but Peter was very keen to support our work, and his gorgeous illustrations and Dan’s wonderful little story have combined to create something that all Ivor fans, young and old, will treasure.”

Peter Firmin and his daughter Emily (the original “Emily” from Bagpuss) visited SPANA projects in Morocco in October, seeing the work of the charity. Both were struck by how much SPANA’s work benefits the people who depend on working animals for a living, as well as helping sick or injured animals back to health.

Peter Firmin said, “I was very fortunate to see SPANA’s amazing work in Morocco earlier this year and the scale of its operation. From building water points for thirsty carriage horses around Marrakech to doing emergency caesareans on donkeys. I hope this little book helps the important work they do for both working animals and the people who depend on them.”

Dan Postgate said, “I was a bit daunted by the prospect of slipping into my dad's Hush Puppies and composing a new story. I hope I've managed to summon up some of the flavour of the original Ivor tales. It was certainly a real thrill to get the stamp of authenticity by having my story illustrated by Peter Firmin.”

Notes to Editors:

  •     The new story, entitled “Bluebell’s Christmas Mission” is available as a download from the SPANA website at http://www.spana.org from today at a cost of £3. Hard copies can be ordered online for £3.50, or by sending a cheque to SPANA at 14 John Street, London. WC1N 2EB. All profits made will help SPANA’s veterinary and education work overseas.
  •     SPANA has had the story fully translated into the Welsh language, and this is available as a separate download from the same website or as a hard-copy by post.
  •     PDF’s of the illustrations are available on request and can be reproduced but must be credited with; “© Peter Firmin 2009”
  •     SPANA was founded in North Africa 80 years ago, and now runs 19 veterinary centres and 21 mobile veterinary clinics in countries like Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Jordan and Syria. It focuses on working animals in the knowledge that they play a vital role in supporting poor families and communities. It has increasingly been asked to intervene in emergency situations and has operated veterinary missions to Kosovo, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Darfur and Chad.

For more information contact Simon Pope, Director of Communications, SPANA
Tel - 0207 269 2689 or Mobile - 07811 404 874. Alternatively e-mail simon(at)spana(dot)org.

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