Childhood inspires first book

Susan Lewis at book signing event in Billingham Library with her new book Hoem on the Range''For Apr 22 patch
Susan Lewis at book signing event in Billingham Library with her new book Hoem on the Range''For Apr 22 patch

AN author returned to her home town for the launch of her first book.

Susan Lewis, 63, who was born and grew up in Billingham, penned the poignant look back on her childhood in the 1950s and 60s for her book titled Home on the Range.

In it, Susan tells of growing up when a small tranquil village was transformed into a bustling industrial town by chemical giant ICI.

She said: “I felt that I had a story to tell. This is a personal account written with great affection for the people and places that have shaped my life.

“You had a lot more freedom as a child than perhaps children do nowadays being ferried everywhere in car and a lot more freedom to play out.” Susan recalls her happy school days at Hartlepool’s former Henry Smiths School on the headland.

She said: “We were bused in from Billingham and actually outnumbered the children from Hartlepool at the school.”

Susan also recounts her early memories of playing in an Anderson shelter in the garden to her teenage years buying the latest LPs at Leslie Brown’s,

Home on the Range is the first book to be published by Sixth Element Publishing, a new publishing company based in Billingham.

It is working with new authors to give them an opportunity to get published in both traditional books and new electronic formats.

Susan added: “I hope this book strikes a chord with readers, especially people from Teesside, as they journey with me from times of post-war austerity to 1960s optimism and prosperity.”

Susan taught at various secondary schools in Yorkshire where she held a number of senior management positions.

She moved to Wales in 1986 where she became a school inspector and in 1997 become the first woman to be appointed HM Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales.

Susan was awarded the CBE in 2008 for services to education.

She signed copies of her book and chatted to readers at Billingham Library on Tuesday.

Home on the Range: Growing up on Teesside in the 50s and 60s is 144 pages and priced £12.99.