Staff at a Dorset dementia care home have helped to fulfil the lifelong wish of a literary-minded resident who dreamt of having her childhood stories published.
Rosalind Corkett, who passed away in February aged 89 after living at Colten Care’s Outstanding-rated Longham home Fernhill, wrote three tales with her teddy bear as protagonist when she was growing up in Osterley, West London.
The bear, Edward Rupert Ransome Bear, was given to the young Rosalind Ransome by her Aunt Daisy, a fan of teddies like the rest of the family.
Edward featured in Rosalind’s self-penned story books Teddy on the Bearfolk Broads, The Adventures of Owly and Teddy, and Teddy’s Holiday.
Each was handwritten on a note pad and illustrated by Rosalind herself.
The plots were inspired by family letters about holidays in Norfolk and, later, home life while Rosalind’s two elder brothers Bryan and Godfrey were fighting in World War Two.
With wartime censorship limiting what could be written about, Rosalind turned to ‘teddy bear code’ to enable Edward to correspond safely with the brothers via her and her parents Nora and Harold.
Rosalind’s stories demonstrated her love of English, her favourite subject at school, and were an important part of her girlhood along with playing tennis and being in the Girl Guides.
She also had piano lessons from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mother who was pregnant with him at the time and so, Rosalind used to say, he would have heard her play.
After school, Rosalind went to secretarial college, found work with a London estate agent and later took up a position reporting to the chief typographer of the Penguin books production department near Heathrow.
Rosalind married in 1958 and had a daughter Jacqui and son Tony while living in Guildford before moves to Petersfield and then Southampton.
Continuing the family’s teddy bear tradition, she regularly read the stories about Edward, plus Winnie the Pooh and Paddington, to Jacqui and Tony when they were children.
After retirement in Cornwall and eventually moving to Fernhill in April 2020, Rosalind told staff of her heartfelt wish to publish the Edward stories and explained she had kept her original notebooks safely ever since the 1940s.
At the same time and to help her with reminiscence during lockdown, both Tony and Jacqui would read the Edward stories to her via Skype.
In response to Rosalind’s wish, Fernhill’s Companionship Team Leader Kate Morris liaised with Tony and Jacqui, typed up the longhand scripts and sent all the wording plus copies of the illustrations to a book formatter.
The result is: ‘The Adventures of Teddy Edward’, an 80-page paperback containing the three stories and available to order via Amazon for £7.50.
Although Rosalind has passed away, Kate said she was aware the book was going to be published.
“She knew we were doing it and she had a smile on her face when she found out,” said Kate. “She was a wonderful lady and we are so pleased to have fulfilled her wish and given her family something to remember her by.”
Jacqui said: “The book is a lovely keepsake and I know mum would have been thrilled to know it has been published. We thank everyone involved at Fernhill for their hard work in making this happen. It really is a wish come true.”