The Box of Beautiful Letters
Cheryl Underhill

The Box of Beautiful Letters
A wartime love story revealed from the 1939-1941 correspondence between Lily Smith and RAF pilot Martyn Allies
Lily and Martyn met in London and fell in love at the beginning of World War II, before the bombs had started to fall. Shortly after, Lily, then aged nineteen, was evacuated to work in Torquay and Martyn was called up to train as an RAF pilot. As their feelings for one another deepened and their affectionate letters became ever more passionate, circumstances forced them to live further apart.
The war intensified and Lily moved back to Woodford Green in London. The couple kept up each other’s spirits through their prolific letters, Martyn describing his alarming flying experiences, and Lily painting a colourful picture of everyday life amidst air-raid sirens and bombing raids.
Was marriage ever going to be within their reach? Their letters give a rare insight into life in war-torn Britain and into the experiences of a fledgling RAF pilot advancing to the status of a Coastal Command pilot operating from Iceland.
Published: Sept 2021
Paperback: 364 pages
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425944

Available on Amazon
This treasure-trove of letters might have remained hidden forever had not Cheryl Underhill found them in a battered cardboard box at the back of a cupboard. Painstaking work has knitted them together to form this remarkable book.

Cheryl Underhill, a former primary school teacher, discovered many new interests in retirement and one of these, encouraged by her membership of the u3a, was historical research. Once she had set about reading the wartime letters that she’d discovered, and appreciated how well-written they were, she embarked on producing a book to tell the writers’ story, in the context of its era. This, she hoped, would be a tribute to Lily Smith and Martyn Allies’ love for each other, and the love felt for them by their family and the many others with whom their lives had been entwined.

Tales of a Leicestershire Detective
Simon Shuttleworth

Tales of a Leicestershire Detective
Simon Shuttleworth was a police officer in Leicestershire for thirty years. He investigated some of the most appalling crimes ever seen in the East Midlands. These included the grooming, rape and murder of fifteen-year-old Kayleigh Haywood, the horrific firebombing of an innocent family and the despicable fatal attack on a beloved Turkish family man in his flat in Leicester.
But even detectives engaged in the most serious cases need downtime and relaxation. In Simon’s case, this meant organising the annual police golf trip. That would be all very well for a good golfer but Simon, by his own admission, was no Nick Faldo.
Golf can be relaxing, frustrating, annoying and fun all at the same time but on those trips, playing golf was only half the story.
Published: July 2021
Paperback: 205 pages
Price: £8.99
ISBN: 9-781914-424120

£8.99 (+ £3 P&P UK only)
Number of copies:

Available from Amazon

Prince Charles, Leeds United, naked dancing, rancid chickens, broken windows, sleepwalking room-mates, a golf-course bugler, unrequited love, toilet-roll fires and Roy Chubby Brown don’t cover half the near-the-knuckle adventures of those cops on tour.
But the golf was just an escape from what really mattered: murder investigation.
Bringing to justice people prepared to commit the most heinous crime of all, people who thought they could, literally, get away with murder - that was something worth fighting for.

18.07.2021 - ★★★★★ A well written book with just the right blend of humour and sensitivity.
Amazon Verified Reader
Simon expertly conveys how murder detectives deal with horrific cases and then find distraction in that noble leisure pursuit that can be found on a golf course - plus the consumption of quantities of alcohol and plenty of funny antics along the way. He gives insight to some key investigations and the many people affected by a murder - and also introduces us to some of the varied 'characters' who are murder detectives. A well written book with just the right blend of humour and sensitivity.

24.07.2021 - ★★★★★ A varied read- funny and interesting.
Sophie Ferguson
A great book to read from many varied angles-interesting and funny. Some parts are thought provoking when you read about the impact of crime on not only the victim and their families but also in the families of police officers! There are also plenty of light hearted sections and insight into the actual world behind the public view of policing.

Memoir of a Bluebell Girl
Jane Hoggar

At the age of twelve, Jane had to abandon her dreams of becoming a ballerina. Measuring six-feet tall with size nine feet, she reluctantly gave her tutu way, instead, sewing herself a sequinned boob tube and turning her ambitions to Top of the Pops, Pans People and the exciting world of cabaret.

Demonstrating a natural ability to stay calm in a crisis, Jane breezes through the most challenging of situations on a variety of exotic work engagements. Encouraging us to see the world through her rose-tinted spectacles, she navigates her way around compelling dramas and romantic liaisons that keep us on the edge of our seats.

Treating us to a fascinating window on the world of show business, Jane describes her exciting travels around the globe during the 80’s that eventually lead her to the remarkable Margaret Kelly, better known as Miss Bluebell of Le Lido de Paris.

“You certainly perused the box of chocolates before you decided which one you wanted didn’t you dear?” Jane’s husband commented after reading Bluebell Girl, referring to the multitude of boyfriends in the story.

“Absolutely!” she declared, “I discarded the soft centres, complicated chewy ones and eventually chose the solid, reliable, hard nut!”

Published: June 2021
Paperback: 454 pages
Price: £16.99
ISBN: 978-1-913425-97-5

£16.99 (+ £3.50 postage)
Number of copies:

Available from Amazon

Jane trained at theatre school during the 80’s and then took off around the world, devising ways and means of finding employment on and off stage. Jane’s work placements have been varied to say the least, from Can-Can dancer to dinner lady, in places as diverse as Ipswich and Tokyo. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds when there is a challenge to cope with, demonstrated perfectly in her previous book, Chemo Summer, where covering a serious topic she still manages to treat us to the full force of her witty approach to difficult personal circumstances. Jane lives in Suffolk with her husband.

Reader Reviews...

A Miner Goes to War
E. C. Hamer

A memoir of a Welsh childhood and wartime service in North Africa and Italy (1923-1945)
Edited by Pat Wilson, Ernest Hamer and Anne Kleiser

Eddie Hamer’s memoir gives a unique insight into working-class life in the first half of the 20th century. It is often humorous, sometimes angry, and always informative. It begins with a history of his workingclass Welsh mining family, based on his own memories and on a series of discussions with his father in the 1960s - while there was still time to record first-hand accounts of his family’s story in the decades before he was born.
There follows his childhood in Huddersfi eld and North Wales in the 1920s. The poverty and hardship that his family endured is vividly described and the now-unthinkable responsibilities he had to shoulder at a young age - but this was also a boyhood of freedom, camaraderie and adventures.
The final sections of Eddie’s memoir are based on the diaries he kept during his service in World War 2: his training in the U.K. and his service in North Africa and Italy as a gunner in the Royal Artillery.
Published: March 2021
Paperback: 286 pages
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425722

£11.99 (+ £3.00 postage)
Number of copies:

Eddie left school at the age of fourteen to work down Llay Main coal mine. His early working life from his first day underground comes alive, with many personal anecdotes set in context by clear explanations of how a coal mine functioned in the 1930s.
After the war he qualified and eventually became Chief Mining Surveyor in two collieries in South Wales. He was married with one son and one daughter and died in 1990.
Reader Reviews...

Alison Hembrow, The Royal Regiment of Wales Museum

This book is a gem: a combination of recollections of working-class childhood and early adulthood in the first half of the twentieth century, family stories, and war diaries – all seen through the lens of a fiercely independent man with strong socialist views. It’s a valuable first-hand insight into lives and times that are in danger of being forgotten. It’s also a gripping and eye-opening read which has been carefully brought to press by members of Eddie Hamer's family who recognise the importance of his memoir.
“A Miner Goes to War” is presented in two distinct halves. The first is recollections of childhood and early life growing up in a working-class family in Wales and Yorkshire in the 1920s and 1930s. Recorded several decades later, Eddie's strong left-wing views shine through in his emotive descriptions of his family being part of “the rabble of history”. His mother’s family were Welsh miners, his father's family woollen workers from mid-Wales, both struggling to find regular employment and make ends meet.
Moving to Yorkshire in search of work, Eddie’s family found themselves in cramped accommodation unfit for human habitation. His early teens featured trips to the abattoir to collect a bucket of intestines to provide meals, war-wounded teachers, earth closets, early deaths, and further deprivation during the General Strike.
At 14 Eddie leaves school and goes down the mine. He and his family are now in north Wales. Detailed descriptions of the working conditions, equipment used, and jobs done give an insight into a harsh world in which pit disasters and deaths were frequent. His aptitude is spotted and he starts night school classes to qualify as a mining surveyor.
Although the memories aren’t all chronological, and they are seen through the prism of Eddie's adult beliefs, they give a strong flavour of lives which were lead by many but recorded by few. Interspersed with vignettes touching on current affairs, they bring to life an existence experienced by millions in a way a more traditional historical account cannot.
Photos and hand-drawn maps and plans divide this first section from Eddie's war diaries which form the second half of the book. These diaries have a different character altogether. Written as he completed his basic training as a gunner in the Royal Artillery and served in North Africa and Italy, they have an immediacy and level of detail that gives a sobering insight into the day-to-day experiences of a soldier and the horrors of war.
Eddie brings an admirable humanity to his encounters on active service: fetching a medical orderly to dress the wound of a young Italian girl, sharing water-melons with Arab children, cooking fried tomatoes with locals. His interests are wide-ranging: he describes the workings of Italian bombs, the quality of German dugouts, the architecture of mosques, the historical interest of Pompeii compared with the squalor of Naples, and rearing Regimental turkeys for Christmas lunch. He also records the 104 degree fever he suffered, the horrors of rampant dysentery in the regiment, the limbs lost by close comrades in a premature explosion, and cemeteries full of teenage German casualties.
When Eddie's narrative ends in 1944 , his brief notes and Release Leave Certificate are included as an Afterword. His military conduct was officially described as “Exemplary”. “A Miner Goes to War” is exemplary in preserving for future generations and researchers the personal experience of an upbringing in a mining family and service in World War Two. Having just read Captain Tom Moore’s “Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day”, I can see parallels in two accounts of growing up in the 1920s and serving in World War Two from contemporaries who both bring a personal perspective to aspects of national history.
Books such as this add a different dimension to more traditional accounts, and are a valuable addition to the bookshelves of anyone wanting to find out more about aspects of life in the first half of the 20th century.

Review of “A Miner Goes to War” by Neil Wilson

I really enjoyed “A Miner Goes to War”. The memories are personal, but they seem to capture the period very well. It’s a powerful reminder of what the world was like when the welfare state was a lot smaller. Anyone who utters the words, ‘safety gone mad’, will be reminded of what the world could be like; a world where people get killed in accidents and everyone else carries on working. Reading this book made me realise how much we take for granted in modern Britain. Social improvements were hard won, and can be easily lost.
It’s a book with powerful contrasts. This was an era when kids could play on the local scrap heap, build tree houses in the woods, swim in the river and crawl under the market stalls looking for fruit. But this childhood freedom is tinged with a sense of fatalistic sadness. Once he was in the army, he never knew where he would be in a few hours. Every moment of the day was planned for him, mingled with the unexpected attack from a passing plane or an ambush.
Each memory is filled with powerful emotions, taking the reader back in time. As he walks through the woods past a house that’s supposed to be haunted, we imagine how we’d have felt as young child. There are moments of tension, when a farmer catches them stealing apples. Moments of enchantment, when his uncle dresses up as Father Christmas. Moments of anger, when workers are deliberately under paid. We see the world through E. C. Hamer’s eyes, and grow older with him. He really captures how a person thinks at different ages, but with little retrospectives showing how he saw things as an older adult. Considering how much hardship there is, from the miners’ strike to the war, there’s a positive feeling to the book. There are many moments of camaraderie, from the kids building a bonfire together, to the miners playing their instruments underground. There’s a feeling that people do come together in the face of adversity.
E. C. Hamer captures the realities of war very well. There are so many details, like the friendly fire, the shells that malfunction, trading soap for eggs with the locals, the ‘enemy’ leaving dirty protests in the houses before they retreat and the German deserters they find hiding in a cave.
His account comes across as remarkably honest. E.C Hamer has a lot to be proud of, but he also shares his regrets, including one time as a child when he was peer pressured into putting a firework through someone’s letter box. It’s a combination of stark honesty, bravery, hard work, empathy, ironic humour and self reflection, that makes E.C. Hamer such a likeable narrator.

From Chapel to Chief Constable
Tony Leonard

From Chapel to Chief Constable
Principles, Politics and Public Service
Tony Leonard

Tony Leonard was born into a working-class family in Kirkburton in Yorkshire and grew up in a tied house in the grounds of a mental hospital. There he mixed with the staff of the hospital and with their children, encountering a far wider variety of nationalities, languages and political cultures than a working-class lad would otherwise have encountered in the locality.

Thiis memoir describes his personal and professional journey from that small, self-contained community, via the LSE where he was a sociology graduate and Hull University where he gained a Doctorate in Politics, into the national and international world of policing. He served in four diff erent police forces, rising from constable to Chief Constable.

Published: Jan 2021
Paperback: 117 pages
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425661

£5.99 (+ £2.50 postage)
Number of copies:

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Uniting all aspects of a long and distinguished career has been his lifelong Christian commitment, also a commitment to equality and socialism, two moral positions that have guided his decision-making throughout. During the Miners’ Strike he maintained Derbyshire’s independence from external pressure through operational policies quite diff erent from those of the surrounding forces; as Chief of Humberside he repaired relations with the Police Authority and introduced widespread reforms in personnel policies, stressing the need for gender equality and insisting on high professional integrity at all times. He also successfully persuaded the Boundary Commission to retain the Police, Fire and Ambulance services on a county-wide basis after the abolition of Humberside County Council.

The Golden Thread of God’s Love
Gill Ganie

The Golden Thread of God’s Love
From South Africa to the UK and beyond,
A narrative of an ‘ordinary’ man with an extraordinary God

BORN IN OBSCURITY to a single Hindu woman in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1958 during the apartheid era, Omar was a charming, humorous individual. This poignant biography describes how he was relocated to the UK and through many challenges developed resilience and strength of character.

It tells how he experienced God’s presence from a young age and became a Christian as a teenager and how, from that, all else followed.
Omar’s unswerving faith in Jesus led him to believe with Him no problem is insurmountable. In later life, Omar returned to South Africa to retrace his roots and discover the truth about his origins – discoveries which caused him to re-evaluate his life and thank God again for his faithfulness throughout.

Published: Dec 2020
Paperback: 140 pages
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425180
Buy now from The Author

All profits will go to The Sozo Foundation – based in the impoverished Cape Flats community of Vrygrond, Cape Town, South Africa (

Gill Ganie is a part-time Health Visitor and has a degree in Public Health Nursing. She does not profess to be a professional writer but has, however, undertaken a writing course at City Lit College in London which at the very least spurred her on to write her first book. Gill has enjoyed being part of this story together with other members of the growing Ganie family. She is mother of three grown up children and has five grandchildren..