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How This North East Publishing Company is Keeping an Author's Legacy Going

How This North East Publishing Company is Keeping an Author's Legacy Going David Greaves in Tanzania (Family Photo)
May 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

A family publishing company based in Ingoe are determined to publish all of a late aspiring children's author's books

Here's how Stanage Press celebrates the work of David Greaves.

When he was just 30, aspiring author David met the cruel diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND) with courage, determination and his trademark enthusiasm, and spent the last year of his life writing nine books for children. His parents, Andrew and Sarah, set up their own publishing company in Ingoe, Northumberland, in order to publish them all.

David was an outdoors enthusiast who liked to spend his time outdoors hiking, running or cycling, and time inside – with his job at Transport for London – writing stories for children: in coffeeshops on his lunch break, in the park, or on the tube home. An ultra-marathon runner and Iron Man triathlete, he had read history at Newcastle University before venturing down to London, where he met the love of his life, Philippa. Life was good. And then the unthinkable happened – in 2015, just a month after his 30th birthday, David was diagnosed with MND.

Determined not to give in to the dramatically life-shortening disease – for which, at present, there is no cure – David seized the opportunity to dedicate himself whole-heartedly to his writing, even when his limbs began failing him.

David and Philippa in Tanzania David and Philippa in Tanzania (Family Photo)

David wrote 10 stories altogether, mostly in the last year of his life,’ explains his father, Andrew. ‘Initially he used his phone, but the first disability he acquired was the loss of the dexterity in his hands, so we quickly sourced him an Eye Gaze computer. It was lucky we did, because it took us all by surprise how quickly the MND progressed.

‘David spent a long time writing, editing and polishing his work. His love of the written word was very deep, and a lot of the vocabulary is quite challenging for younger children. But I used to be a teacher, and I learned in that job that if children are gripped by the story, they’ll glide over words they don’t understand and will pack them away. So building a sense of the richness of language was implicit in what David was doing in his writing. But they’re also just so funny! One of them, The Baboon in the Balloon, came about because while we were on holiday in Tanzania with the boys and their partners. Our eldest son, Peter, had been bought a balloon safari by his wife as a birthday present, and David just concocted this whole story around it. It’s marvellous to us that when he was literally falling apart, he was still busy writing these humorous, life-affirming stories for children. He never lost his sense of humour.’

A cruel diagnosis, MND is a devastating neurodegenerative condition which gradually stops the brain’s messages reaching the body’s muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and, eventually, waste. It can impact the way we walk, talk, eat, drink and even breathe, with some sufferers also experiencing changes to their behaviour. But despite the odds stacked against him, David refused to give in. He married Philippa, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association [MNDA] – at a time when he had already lost the use of his hands and needed assistance walking – and worked in an East African orphanage, before eventually settling in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Unfortunately, David’s deterioration was rapid, and just over a year after he was diagnosed, he passed away

‘It’s tragic, but, in a sense, we’ve dealt with the tragic part of it now,’ Andrew reasons. ‘It’s so difficult for the loved ones of anyone living with MND to watch them fall apart before your eyes. But David was immensely strong. He was brave as well, and very philosophical about it all. We got to the point where there was nothing that we hadn’t said to each other. Obviously, we still just miss him all the time. But his legacy is in these wonderful books.’

Andrew, along with his wife Sarah, son Peter, and David’s wife Philippa, is committed not only to protecting that legacy, but also to sharing it with future generations, by setting up their own publishing company in order to publish every one of David’s 10 children’s books.

cover art work for 3 of davids books mentioned in the article

‘Before he left us, David presented us with the complete body of work that he’d finished,’ explains Andrew. ‘He was actually a published author in his lifetime. Philippa and the Homeless Bumblebee was written for Friends of the Earth in the November after his diagnosis – he actually wrote part of that on his honeymoon! It became a really big success with every child that got their hands on a copy, so he knew he was good and he asked us to ensure that the rest of his books were published too.

‘We founded Stanage Press the year after David died, in the autumn of 2017, and republished Philippa and the Homeless Bumblebee alongside David’s second book, Mr Snuffles’ Birthday, in May the following year – on David’s birthday, actually.’

The next book to be published by Stanage Press is The Armadillo Pillow Fight and Other Stories. On Saturday 11th May the book will be launched at Haslams of Hallgate Art Gallery, Hexham with special guest Carol Malia from BBC Look North.

To learn more about Stanage Press, and to purchase David’s books, visit

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