21 November 2019

On Wednesday 13th November we were delighted to welcome author Gill Lewis to school.

Gill Lewis became a vet and her work took her from the wilds of Africa to the frozen lands of the Arctic…

When Gill had children, inspired by their story books, she went back to university to study Writing for Young People where she learned how to craft her stories. Not long after finishing her first book, Sky Hawk, she was fortunate enough to find an agent and then a publisher. Her route into storytelling is often through sketching the characters and scenes from the stories before starting to write them.

As part of their transition work from Year 6 to Year 7, all the pupils read Gill’s 2017 novel Sky Dancer about the plight of Hen Harriers, the economy and ecology of grouse-shooting moors and a group of friends making a difference to their environment. The issues of moorland fires, grouse shooting and the decline of the Hen Harrier are especially pertinent in Lancashire and the North West as we have four of only nine known breeding pairs in the entire country.

All the Year 7 students were invited to take part in a special morning with Gill where she spoke about her work, writing stories and her inspirations. There was a ‘Q & A’ session with some fabulous questions from the students. Students who had bought a copy of one of Gill’s books were also able to speak to Gill and have the copy of their book signed.

Later in the day students in Years 8-11, who had expressed an interest in meeting Gill, along with student Librarians and members of the Young Writers’ club took part in a writing workshop about the writing and publishing process. Budding writers, avid readers and students interested in conservation and environmental issues, impressed Gill with their insightful questions and were inspired to become storytellers of the future!

Mrs. Henderson, Balshaw’s Literacy Co-ordinator, asked the Year 7 students to write some experience statements (see examples below) and letters of thanks to Gill. She was amazed by some of the questions asked by the pupils and she said she would tweet about our school and her visit. She also asked Dr Breen, Balshaw’s Librarian, to keep in touch with news about the students.

Student reflections:

Cassidy Marcini - “This morning I met Gill Lewis author of our Sky Dancer, which was our Year 6 Transition Work. I thought it was amazing to meet her and she is one of my favourite authors ever! I have all her books and she is an inspiration to me. I have read Sky Dancer and the first chapter of White Dolphin, which she signed for me, and I think it's amazing.”

Rhys Salisbury - “Today Year 7 met Gill Lewis, the author of Sky Dancer, Moon Bear, Sky Hawk, Run Wild and many more. I first read Sky Dancer when I was transitioning from Year 6 to Year 7 and thought that book was great but before this I wasn't a keen reader at all. Equally I thought your presentation was very engaging and I learned a lot from it.”

Finlay Hartley - “I thought Gill Lewis was very kind and clever. She showed respect to everyone and answered everybody's question in detail. Like me she loves animals and is very passionate about their plight. I particularly like hearing about her previous life as a vet when she got bitten by a dog that was under anaesthetic!”

Thank you Gill. It was lovely to meet you and the students had a wonderful time. 

Gill Lewis - Author Visit