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St Gabriel’s

St Gabriel’s

Don't give up - the storm ends!

Staff and pupils were moved by Mrs Chapman's assembly this week about an inspirational book she has recently read.  We have reproduced sections below for the wider school community to enjoy.

I have been looking at many inspirational stories and came across a short video that Charlie Mackesy had recorded before Christmas. His video talked about his drawings and his book ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ which was the winner of Waterstones’ Book of the Year in 2019. I became more curious and now, having read his book, thought I would share with you what I found out about this inspirational man. What he does is document the human condition through amazing sketches about empathy and kindness. He started posting his sketches and words on Instagram; he never set out to make a book.  While working away on his characters, he got a flurry of publishers asking him if he wanted to make a book. The friendships and simple conversations about life, amongst his main four characters, a boy, a fox, a mole and a horse, in the end became a graphic novel. When asked if this was a book for adults, he said “This book is for everyone, whether you are 80 or 8” - I feel like I’m both sometimes!

The drawings are mainly of a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse. The boy is lonely when the mole first surfaces. They spend time together gazing into ‘the wild’. I think ‘the wild’ is a bit like life - frightening sometimes and beautiful at others. In their wanderings they meet the fox. It’s never going to be easy meeting a fox if you are a mole. The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake, whilst the fox is mainly silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life. The horse is the biggest thing they have ever encountered, and also the gentlest. They are all different, just like us and each has their own weaknesses. I can see myself in all four of them perhaps you can too!

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy. "Help." said the horse

Initially the idea was to print 1000 copies of the book but now over 2 million copies have been sold and it has been translated into more than a dozen languages. On top of this Charlie’s also created a thank you series of drawings dedicated to frontline workers. Lines from the book have been used about Britain’s health service to promote good mental health. You can see some of his work in this video clip ‘Don’t give up - the storm ends’ .  Although this dates from before Christmas the message still very much stands ‘Don’t give up - the storm ends’.
Charlie also said that it is so difficult in this world of social media when you look at people’s lives and think ‘Oh no! What am I?’ It’s good to remember that we all struggle. Don’t be your own critic, encourage yourself, be kind to yourself.

I would like to close with more words from the introduction of Charlie Mackesy's book.

"I hope this book encourages you perhaps to live courageously with more kindness for yourself and for others. And to ask for help when you need it - which is always a brave thing to do. When I was making the book I often wondered who  on earth am I to be doing this? But as the horse says 'the truth is everyone is winging it' so I say spread your wings and follow your dreams - this book is one of mine."

charlie Mackesy


Prayer for the day

Dear Lord

Please help us to show kindness to ourselves and others and to understand that everyone will find things difficult at times.

Help us look for all the positives that we can and to focus on new things that we can start up and get involved in. Let us remember that it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help but a sign of strength and as the horse said ‘Asking for help isn’t giving up - it is refusing to give up!’  Lord help us to be strong and positive as we move forward.

Mrs Angela Chapman
Vice Principal



Waterstones' review of the book

Charlie Mackesy has been a cartoonist for The Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. Find out more about him  on his website


What do others say about the book

'A wonderful work of art and a wonderful window into the human heart.' - Richard Curtis

'Simply, the world needs Charlie's work right now.' - Miranda Hart

'Love, friendship and kindness - this book speaks a universal language of the heart.' - Bear Grylls