February 2022

Swindon Schoolgirl carries on her grandpa’s storytelling for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

For David Ellis: 29th July 1953-1st August 2021

Swindon schoolgirl writes story for charity in memory of her grandpa.
Ten-year old Molly Copestake, Old Town resident and Croft school pupil, is raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND).

MND takes many forms, all of it cruel. Molly’s grandpa, David Ellis, received an MND diagnosis in March 2020, just as we entered the first Covid-19 lockdown. Thus Molly and her siblings, like millions more around the country, were prevented from precious time with their much-loved grandpa. He died around a year after his diagnosis.

Of particular tragedy for David, Molly’s storytelling and magic performing grandpa, was that the disease showed itself first of all in his throat. Thus he lost his voice not long after his diagnosis and could no longer tell his stories. So Molly resolved to pick up the baton for her grandpa and write a story involving his imaginary creation, Mr Pippety Poppety.

Swindon schoolgirl writes story for charity - Molly Copestake with her book about Mr Pippety Poppety
Molly Copestake and her book about Mr Pippety Poppety

Mr Pippety Poppety

When Molly was small, her retired headteacher grandpa, made up stories for her about a tiny man, called Mr Pippety Poppety, who lived in the woods. Says Molly: ‘Every time we went out for a walk he would take him out of this pocket and make up stories about his adventures.’

Molly’s mum, Jen, told me how he’d work into his stories elements of their day to bring them to life. He also would weave his magic tricks into them.

A note from Magic Grandpa

In the back of Molly’s book, there are some words from Magic Grandpa himself. He explains how, as a primary school headteacher, he would produce Mr Pippety Poppety from his pocket. He’d then show him around a circle of children. And never once did any child not ‘see’ Mr Pippety Poppety.

He also explains how, for a hobby, he was a children’s magician. He goes on to describe how he performed the cake trick that Molly features in her story, at one of her birthday parties.

Swindon schoolgirl writes story for charity - illustration of Magic Grandpa from Molly's book
Swindon schoolgirl writes story for charity – illustration of Magic Grandpa from Molly’s book – you can see the resemblance I think!

David wrote how proud he felt of Molly – and quite right too! She’s a remarkable young lady. You’ll not be surprised to know that her favourite topic at school is English and that she has ambitions to write.

What the family did

Having promised her grandpa that she’d continue his story telling, Molly sat down and wrote her Mr Pippety Poppety story. Knowing they had little time the family got the story illustrated and published on Amazon, resolving to complete the project for his birthday – that turned out to be two days before he died. But he did manage to see it in electronic form before that.

How you can help

Well in the first instance by buying a copy of Mr Poppety’s Birthday on Amazon here. Thus far the family have raised £50 for MND – that’s brilliant. And with your help they can add to that total.

The other thing you can do is share this blog post and spread the word. That would be just fab!

What next?

I asked Molly and her mum if they had plans to do any more books. They’d like to but of course it’s a big cost to them – in particular getting it illustrated. So if there are any children’s’ book illustrators out there, prepared to help them pro bono get in touch! Though they won’t be doing it again just yet awhile! 🙂

Born Again Swindonian Logo

Sign up to receive awesome Swindon content in your inbox, every week.