90-year-old Blackburn poet achieves lifelong dream

This Is Lancashire: Bill Austin Bill Austin

AT the ripe old age of 90, Bill Austin had a lifelong dream realised as he bridged the generation gap by reading some self-penned poems from his new book to an audience of young children.

Bill’s story itself is something akin to a fairytale after an act of kindness from his thoughtful neighbour, Amanda Chinery, helped him overcome arthritis to achieve his lifelong literary ambition of having a book published.

Bill and Amanda live eight doors apart in Bute Road in Shadsworth, Blackburn.

After a speight of snowy weather last winter, Amanda decided to take it upon herself to knock on her neighbour’s doors and offer to go to the shops for them or help them if they were struggling in the hazardous conditions.

The mother-of-three said: “After I met Bill, he sent a letter saying thank you for visiting and so I went round again with a winter care package and a hot water bottle and we just became friends.

“He started telling me about his love of poetry and how he couldn’t type any more due to the arthritis in his hands and I just said ‘I’ll do it for you’.”

Great-grandfather Bill, a radio engineer who was once a specialist in interpreting high speed Morse messages from German command, shared his poems with Amanda and even let her choose the best ones.

When the anthology was completed, the dynamic duo began thinking of ways to get it published.

Amanda said: “Bill wrote a letters to publishers but didn’t hear anything back and one day, I just decided to Tweet about it. I used #AskTwitter and someone tweeted me and advised us to try R3think publishing and so we did. They’ve now printed it and his book is for sale in the library and on Amazon. amazing thing to be a part of.”

Bill’s book, entitled ‘If You Don’t Like Poetry Read This’, left pupils from Shadsworth and Sacred Heart primary schools enraptured at the public reading in Blackburn Library.

He said: “My poetry doesn’t necessarily have a theme. It is just a collection of my thoughts put into poetry. I wake up each morning at 6am and over breakfast every day I write two pieces — one usually ends up in the bin and the other I keep.”

Amanda added: “It’s inspired us all – my youngest daughter has even started writing poetry and she calls round to read it to Bill.

“I looked at Bill reading to the children from his book of poems and I just felt all tingly — he’s 90 years old and has had a dream realised and I’m so proud.”

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