Adrian Slack, from Branton, was recuperating at Tickhill Road Hospital’s Hazel Ward, following surgery on his knee, when he spotted a squirrel outside the window, which he named Cyril.
Cyril quickly became the inspiration for a series of daily adventures which partially sighted Adrian creatively conjured up and secretly shared with Sharon Evans, the ward’s Activity Co-ordinator.
Sharon, from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Adrian is registered blind and only has limited vision so he asked if I would write down Cyril’s stories as he dictated them to me. We did it in secret because he then asked me to read out the latest instalment at our daily activity session, and none of the other patients guessed who was behind it.”
Adrian stayed tight-lipped and didn’t confess until he was ready to be discharged. Some of Cyril’s adventures are set in and around Hazel Ward, in one he gets injured and is very well looked after by the nurses, while another touches on aspects of Doncaster’s industrial history.
“Adrian has a fantastic imagination, he’s not able to see to write so he would think through Cyril’s latest daily escapade and then quietly recite it to me from memory. They were so good that when he was ready to be discharged I typed them all up for him and gave him the manuscript,” added Sharon.
“He was delighted and generously said he would like to have it printed to sell copies to generate funds for Hazel Ward. Charlie Wright, one of our volunteers, is a very talented artist and he produced some superb artwork to illustrate the stories.”
Former miner Adrian said: “I stayed on Hazel Ward for about four weeks after my operation and the staff were absolutely brilliant, which is why I wanted to give something back.
“Sharon did a fantastic job of writing up my stories and Charlie’s illustrations are brilliant. I can’t thank them both enough. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Cyril the Squirrel yet, I’m mulling over ideas for a second edition, watch this space.”
Copies of the book cost £4 - £5 including postage and packing - and can be obtained by emailing: [email protected]