Local first-time author shares story of Timothy to raise funds for local mental health

Local first-time author John Southall has written to Celebrate:MK to share the story of Timothy, as part of his efforts to raise money for local charities that help with mental health for young people.

I would like to share with you Timothy’s journey.

Timothy started out as a little man called Charlie. When the Starship delivery robots first appeared on our streets in Milton Keynes, people became very fond of them and in their eyes they became human. People used to speak so friendly about them. Somebody had to write a story about them.

In October 2019, I was volunteering for Healthwatch Milton Keynes and became heavily involved in Mental Health projects. I became aware that under eighteens who required hospitalisation in Milton Keynes had to be sent out of the local area. Being sent to Scotland was mentioned at one time.

This played on my mind. Eventually I thought the robots could help our young people. Somebody could write a story book about the robot, a TV series could be made, toys could be made and eventually a film.

A great big donation from Starship could see us have a unit built for our young people, who required hospitalisation, in Milton Keynes.

I put a draft story down, and somebody more apt at writing would do the real story. I then spoke with Tracy Keech at Healthwatch who was very encouraging. We spoke about the story including healthy food so that’s where yogurt and skimmed milk came from.

I also contacted CNWL and NHS England Freedom of Information as to how many of our patients were sent out of area, what was the cost and where were they sent.

I then emailed Lex Bayer CEO of Starship in America. No response.

I emailed Pete Winkelman as I thought his expertise in the entertainment business would be very useful. No response.

I then had contact and meetings with Councillor’s, John Bint, Alice Jenkins and Sam Crook.

I then tried my luck with Ian Revell, CEO MK community Foundation, with BBC productions, with Aardmann Animations and the company in America who produce most of the Children’s TV including Thomas the Tank engine. None of whom could help but wished good luck.

Things started to look bleak. So I became the author. I needed an illustrator. I am a member of University of 3rd Age, and their newsletter had a piece about a Derek Mynard who had given lessons in cartooning. I contacted U3A for Derek’s contacts details.

He contacted me and we arranged a meet. He quickly realised I had no idea what I was doing and took the reins. We decided that we couldn’t use the robot and that’s how Timothy came about.

Further along, we spoke about printing and he gave me two names, Peter Nash and David Vaughan. I spoke to both and they couldn’t have been more helpful. Both providing quotes and very helpful.

I then got an email from Derek saying he couldn’t continue. The project was finished. Angela insisted we carry on. I contacted David Walliams and yes, his office did respond. They finally said he couldn’t help, but at least they did respond.

We then thought about getting another illustrator. We were in the dark, so decided to ask Peter and David the printers if they could help. Both were extremely helpful. David said He and his daughter could do them.

This book is the result. Please note the book is priced at £5.99 plus £2.00 post and packing.

Any donations, please send to me at my home address. Please also share with your network of friends and staff.

Yours Respectfully,
John Southall

John Southall is retired and volunteers for Healthwatch. During his volunteering, he became aware that young people were being sent for mental health treatment and in some cases hospitalised away from home. According to NHS England, over the last past 5 years, 168 young people have been sent to locations across the country.

Hhis book was written to raise awareness and money to fund care/services for children in Milton Keynes who require mental health treatment as there are no facilities that cater for their care closer to home.

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