The write stuff

A passion for history and storytelling has inspired Mereway’s sales and marketing manager Graham Jones to publish a series of children’s books about a boy who travels back through time

Many will know that prior to joining Mereway, Graham Jones was trade sales and marketing director at Hammonds Furniture and before this product director at Whirlpool Corporation.

But not everyone knows that he is a published author of children’s books. His love of history and his experience of wanting to entertain his own three sons with storytelling led him to team up with an illustrator and produce the Time Travelling Toby series of children’s books.

The books are available from independent bookshops, online from Amazon and eBay, and have also just been selected to be available in local libraries across the UK.

The series follows Toby and his brothers on their time-travelling adventures throughout history. The first book follows Toby’s adventures in The Battle of Britain, the second takes in the Battle of Trafalgar and the third the Apollo moon landings.

“As a father, I’m no stranger to children’s literature, and I could see there was a real gap in the market. I love history, and I’d love to pass that passion on to my kids – that’s really how I came up with Time Travelling Toby,” Jones explains. “I’ve also developed interactive presentations and stage shows that I’m touring around family festivals and local schools, and this has proved to be really popular. Kids seem to love the book and get really excited about the history within the story.

“Presenting to a room full of children is quite different from any kind of work presentation I would usually do, but I love the interaction and you never know what to expect from an audience of 60 kids.”

Graham Jones' book Time Travelling TobyHis alternative career has taken him to many different venues and has brought him into contact with many inspirational people.

“It was an honour to become friends with Ken Wilkinson, a veteran Battle of Britain pilot who sadly passed away last year, and to have tea with the granddaughter of Lord Dowding’s [Commander-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain]. I also enjoyed meeting other distinguished RAF flying veterans from WWII at RAF Museum Cosford,” says Jones.

“I was also thrilled to be invited back to my old school as a special guest on speech day. I have subsequently been back several times to do talks and presentations on history and literature.”

The Apollo Moon Landing book was launched at the National Space Centre on World Space Day with special guest, Maggie Lieu, a PhD student in astrophysics, who now works at the European Space Agency.

Graham has also presented a Time Travelling Toby workshop on the middle gun deck on HMS Victory at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

“There must be an element of the ‘showman’ in my personality,” adds Jones. “Maybe that’s why I enjoy exhibitions like kbb so much – to engage with people and share my passions with them.

“We may not be building model aeroplanes or learning how to flag signal at kbb, but I will get to talk about innovations in products and materials and inspire retailers to want to design with our products and be creative in their designs.

“It is a very exciting time in our history, as we embark on Brexit and prepare to depart from Europe. 2018 may prove to be a period of major historic importance. Worthy of a time-travelling adventure for Toby in the future? Who knows?”

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