AN author who used lockdown to write her first children's book has vowed to continue writing in memory of her mother-in-law.

Gemma Stone, from Tadpole Garden Village, says she almost gave up when Sandra, 65, caught Covid-19 and died at the turn of the year.

But instead she used the family heartbreak as inspiration to continue and has now published Bunny & Bear, which she hopes will encourage youngsters to believe in themselves.

Gemma, 33, said: “There was a point where I didn’t want to do it anymore, in January, unfortunately, my husband’s mum passed away from Covid. 

"As a family, it was a huge shock, it made it really hard to write. But she was excited about the book, she couldn’t wait to read it, she really believed in me. It gave me the push to persevere and get it done.

“She had become unwell just after Christmas, at first we thought it was a cold but she had a test, which confirmed she had coronavirus. Thankfully, it was around the time where restrictions allowed us to see her and say goodbye before she passed. We were grateful to have time with her because it’s terrifying for them.

“I have dyslexia, so this is a huge achievement for me. It was difficult for me to focus and complete it. 

"I miss words out and my spelling and grammar isn’t the best, it’s a challenge, but I wanted to push on to inspire others and for Sandra.”

Gemma chose writing a book over learning a language to help pass the time at the start of the pandemic as she couldn’t continue with childminding because of lockdown restrictions. 

Bunny & Bear is all about two children, who are named after her own – Kai, 10, and Lilly, 4 – who find a treasure trove of old books hidden in their loft. Reading one of the poems takes them to a magical world and teaches the children about how to face everyday challenges, such as bullies. 

Gemma hopes her book will encourage children and parents with disabilities or learning difficulties, and make them feel that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. 

“We can do anything, it’s just to do with believing in ourselves and having the right people around who believe in you too,” Gemma added. 

“If it wasn’t for lockdown, I wouldn’t have done it, it’s amazing and I’m so proud of myself.”

One of the main characters in the book called Bear was inspired by Gemma's dad, Kevin Barclay, who always supported her as she grew up.

She said: “He started feeling unwell in February and we now know he has lymph node cancer. 

“He always supported me no matter what, even when it was taking me longer to learn things compared to everyone else. 

"Even with everything going on through the pandemic he motivated me and picked me up and told me to keep going.”

Bunny & Bear is available on Blurb and should be published on Amazon soon.