‘The Boy Who Lost His Burp’ tells the story of Charlie, a little boy with a great talent for burping, who suddenly finds himself in a jam when a very strange thing happens. Penned by graphic designer Mike Condon, the book is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to local clinicians for the care that he and his wife Kelly received, when their daughter, Willow, was born premature last year.
Born at just 33 weeks, Willow required assistance from the Bassetlaw Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) to help her breathe. Following a further three weeks of care and treatment, Mike and Kelly were finally able to take Willow home. Showing his appreciation, Mike, who is a Senior Graphic Designer at Nottingham College, decided to put his considerable talents to use and created ‘The Boy Who Lost His Burp’, pledging to donate all profits from the book to the Trust’s Doncaster and Bassetlaw Birth appeal, with the funds to be used for the benefit of the unit which cared for their daughter.
Picking up the story, Mike said: “I started writing and illustrating the book back in 2017 before Willow was born. As a graphic designer, I usually spend the majority of my time doing stuff for other people and decided I wanted to do something light-hearted for myself. I thought writing a children’s book would be a good way to produce something creative without the usual constraints related to my day-to-day work – I had no intention of doing anything with it – it was just a bit of fun.
“When we found out Kelly was pregnant in 2018, the book was sat half-finished on my computer. I thought I’d get around to completing it at some point before Willow was a toddler so I could read it to her. When things took a twist and Willow arrived sooner than planned, my wife and I were talking about how grateful we were for everything and to those responsible for our daughter’s care. We wanted to show our thanks and at the time even joked that we’d toss a coin to see who’d do a marathon to raise funds.
“Together, we came up with the idea that I could finish the book and sell it, with proceeds from sales going towards the Trust’s charity. It seemed a much more personal touch and there was quite a nice synergy to it – that a book for children could raise money for poorly children. The original plan was to get 250 copies printed to raise £1,000 – that quickly escalated and ended up being three print runs and a final total of £3,000.”
“I joke that the story is ‘semi-autobiographical’. I have a strange quirk that I can’t burp. It’s one of those things that I wheel out when you get asked to ‘tell us something unique about yourself’ at work conference and similar events. Our friends’ children have always found this funny and want to know why I can’t burp and I’ve always joked that it was stolen by a ‘burp monster!”
In all, Mike, Kelly and Willow managed to sell 600 copies, with local businesses and organisations enthusiastically supporting such a worthwhile venture. Kind donations came from Bassetlaw District Council, Klingspor, Dukeries IT, GMB Union (Wilko Branch), OLO Design, Molly’s Mixtures, Burrell’s Estate Agency, Sherwood Mortgages and Premier Foods.
With £3,000 donated, the funds will go towards the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Birth Appeal, which was launched late last year. Seeking the support of its local residents in both towns, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals’ Charity is hoping to raise £100,000 to provide additional equipment and enhance the environments in the Trust’s maternity and neonatal units to give women, babies and their families in Doncaster and Bassetlaw the very best possible care.
Richard Parker OBE, Chief Executive, said: “On behalf of everyone at the Trust, I want to thank Mike, Kelly and Willow for this donation. A number of colleagues have shown me ‘The Boy Who Lost His Burp’ since it was published, and we are humbled that its author has chosen to donate all proceeds from the book to the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Birth Appeal. These funds will be used to improve the environments within our maternity and neonatal units and will make a real difference for local people.”
Local residents and businesses wishing to support the appeal can contact the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital’s Charity office on 01302 644244 or donate directly at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/DBTHBirthAppeal