25th Sep, 2017

Former miner thanks Malvern community for inspiring him to write book on life stories

Craig Gibbons 13th Sep, 2017 Updated: 13th Sep, 2017

A FORMER miner who moved to the town 14 years ago has thanked his wife and the Malvern community for inspiring him to write a book based on his grueling experiences as a child.

In his debut publication ‘Trapped’, Gren Gaskell, of Blackmore Road, tells the story of a young boy called Tommy who seems to have no control over his life until he is buried under a roof fall deep underground.

As he lies stuck under the rubble, he realises what he needs to do with his life when, or if, somebody comes to rescue him.

Gren uses this tale as a metaphor to draw comparisons with his own ‘desperate’ childhood.

However, the 81-year-old, who moved to Malvern from Rugby, told the Observer his book would not have come about had it not been for the persistence of his second wife Arline and town residents who had heard his enlightening anecdotes.

Gren married his first wife Beryl aged 18 and was widowed 40 years later when she died of cancer.

He then remarried 12 years ago.

“I’d like to describe my book as faction – a little bit of fact dashed with some fiction,” he said.

“I owe a huge thank you to the many people in Malvern who have given me so much encouragement over the past decade.

“They have heard me say many times that moving to live here was, for me, like moving onto a different planet and on hearing my stories they have said time and again ‘get them written into a book’.

“My wife has also encouraged me to write the stories carried from my previous environment because these kind of things should not be lost forever.”

Gren was just three years old when his father John died at Bestwood Colliery in Nottinghamshire in 1940, leaving behind his wife Eliza and his six other children Jack, Derek, Roy, Maisy, Ivy and Iris.

Originally from Bulwell in Nottinghamshire, the former Malvern U3A chairman and Malvern Writer’s Circle member endured a difficult childhood before going to work in the coal pits when he was 18.

After spending nine years as a miner, he escaped the terrible conditions, thanks to the help of Mrs Gunn – the headmaster’s secretary at Albert Street School in Bulwell – who got him a job in an office.

“When my dad died, my mother found life very difficult because she was terrified of authority,” said Gren.

“As a child life got very desperate.

“It was not stable and things got even more difficult once I worked in the mines where I had about 29 inches of breathing space.

“Thankfully a piece of writing I did when I was 13 about a boat on a lake managed to get me out of the pits.

“Mrs Gunn had seen my work at the time and as we always kept in touch, I asked her to help me out and luckily she managed to find me a better job.”

He added Mrs Gunn was the only woman in the school and was glad she had taken to him as a child.

Gren is now in the process of a publishing a second book which tells more stories from the pits and pubs.

‘Trapped’, which costs £6.50, is available from Aspect Design on Newton Road and the Malvern Book Co-operative on St Ann’s Road as well as various online sites such as Amazon.

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