It’s International Tiger Day and I am delighted to be sharing a guest post about a very special picture book, The Tiger Who Visited Great Ormond Street Hospital by Martin Hill and Iole Eulalia Rosa. It is inspired by the true story of a young tiger called Indy visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital and meeting the children on the wards.
The children did not expect a furry tiger to be coming on to the wards but when they saw her the children were so excited as she padded on to the ward. It’s wonderful to see Indy’s legacy living on through this book and which brings to life the incredible impact of her visits to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
So how did a tiger called Indy end up visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital? It’s over to Martin to find out…
It all began some time ago now back in 1996. I was working in the I.T. industry in London. I remember thinking I need to go shopping for some new shoes. I found myself at Lakeside Shopping Centre that weekend and whilst walking along the promenade I was approached by Giles Clark who looked after the big cats at Paradise Wildlife Park and was promoting the park. After discussing big cats for an hour or so I was invited to come and meet a tiger at the park! At this point I was so excited at the thought of meeting a tiger but also a little scarred. On the day of the meet I was introduced to a Bengal tiger called Shikar who was just 12 months old who was rejected by mum and was being hand reared by Giles. At that moment I felt such a connection with this magnificent animal, it was almost like it was meant to be. Such a strange feeling came over me. But the time came when I needed to say goodbye. I left the park and headed home feeling the best I had ever felt!!!
Several days later I received a call from Giles at the park asking if I would I like to assist him with the big cats. You can imagine how I felt. From that point onwards I would do everything to be with the cats including going sick from work! I dedicated my annual leave to the cats. I would do almost anything to be with them. I just fell in love with them, as strange as that might sound. The next twenty years of my life was dedicated on a voluntary basis looking after them. I have of course looked after several big cats including Lions, Tigers, Jaguars and cheetahs. I have slept with the tigers when they were poorly, I have looked after them at home when they were baby cubs and nursed them. I have done educational talks on big cats from young children to degree level. Indy the tiger had visited so many children who were in hospital at GOSH, Guy’s Hospital and many more.
Going forward to 2016 Indy was losing weight from the back end and I was responsible for taking her to the local vets for tests. They scanned her whilst she was under anaesthetic and it showed a large cancer mass and the vet looked at me and slowly nodded his head. I broke down at that moment in tears. I gave her one last cuddle and a kiss and said good bye. A week later I assisted with the autopsy with the vet. My heart was broken.
Three weeks later I decided I would share some of her amazing journey’s with children around the world through stories.
Self-publishing was not my first choice. I had sent a couple of manuscripts off to various agencies but it was taking so long to reply. At that point I considered the self-publishing route and never looked back. I am lucky enough to have had support from various celebrities who I have befriended including Steve Backshall, Judy Dench, Chris Packham and many more. The most difficult thing I guess would be the marketing. I don’t have the luxury of a big publishing company behind me. After writing the stories I have to be quite brutal in reducing the word count and spend many hours shortening the story. I then offer the story to an illustrator who provides the illustrations amongst other things. I then create the book in Adobe InDesign / photoshop, once finalised I send off to a printer who sends me proofs before printing. All the books are FSC approved and stitched. I do a number of events, I also go into schools and talk about the books and some of my experiences. I also have access to various wildlife educational bits which I talk about.
Thank you so much, Martin! You can find out more about Indy, Martin and the book via the website: www.indypublishing.co.uk
The Tiger Who Visited Great Ormond Street Hospital was published by Indy Publishing, 2nd edition, 1 February 2022
I am very grateful to Martin for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary post contains my honest opinion.