On Monday 16th September, Five Lives was officially launched. We held a launch party – for friends, families and the organisations who have helped to make this happen – at the Hub on the Green in Exeter.

Here is an edited version of the speech given by Drummond from Southgate Publishers. It provides an insight into the incredible journey we have all been on over the past year – from a literacy class to a published book …

“This book might have been called: Against All Odds.

To be honest, the ingredients shouldn’t have been that promising. Five unpublished, raw writers, a literacy tutor, an inexperienced illustrator and a publisher (new to the job) who was also battling chemotherapy and surgery.

The thing is, the writers have real talent and extraordinary stories to tell; the literacy tutor (Fiona) is inspirational, persistent, stubborn and focused; the illustrator (Jem) has no idea how good she is and the publisher managed the project brilliantly in spite of everything.

Five Lives was simply meant to happen. It has been an amazing book to be involved in. It is the product of local collaboration and skills  – from the writing, through editorial, design, illustrations and printing.

Most importantly, today is about five incredible women: Kate Davies, Hannah Fletcher, Emma Mackinnon, Emma Silvano and Anna Maria. From the first moment we [the publishers] met them, we realised that we were fortunate to become part of an important time in their lives. We’d like to thank them for allowing us to join them on a bit of their journey, and for helping to turn their excellent stories into a book to be proud of. Thanks to Clare (editor), Daniel (designer) and Jem (illustrator) who have worked alongside them, the authors have had a unique opportunity to play a big part in all aspects of the book.

Five Lives has been a real collaboration involving talented, creative and committed people. In publishing terms, it will be a hard act to follow. Now we have to reach out to other people who can draw inspiration from the five authors and ensure that Five Lives continues to be a force for good in the future.

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