A children’s book, set in Cannock Chase during World War I, is available to borrow from selected libraries in Staffordshire, thanks to the Friends of Cannock Chase.
Using part of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the ‘Reaching Out Arms – the Story of Cannock Chase in World War I’, the Friends of Cannock Chase have bought a 20 copies of The Anzac Puppy and given then to nine libraries.
Back in 2014, the team at Cannock Chase AONB was contacted by New Zealander Peter Millet who needed help researching his latest book, which was inspired by Freda, a Harlequin Great Dane and mascot of the NZ Rifle Brigade during World War I.
The team put him in touch with Trevor Warburton a Friend of Cannock Chase, and Marion Kettle from the Landor Society, who helped the writer find out information about Freda’s history.
Following the publication of The Anzac Puppy, Peter visited the UK last summer and met the Friends of Cannock Chase and members of the Landor Society.
On the visit, he laid a poppy spray at the Commonwealth Cemetery and one on Freda’s grave. He also had a look around the World War I Hut at Marquis Drive.
As The Anzac Puppy is not available in the UK, the Friends of Cannock Chase decided to buy 20 copies so the story can be enjoyed by children across Staffordshire.
Author of The Anzac Puppy, Peter Millett, said: “During 2015 nearly every school in Auckland placed a copy of The Anzac Puppy in their library for students to read and enjoy. I’m thrilled that children in Staffordshire will also get an opportunity to read Freda’s story.”
Trevor Warburton, Secretary of Friends of Cannock Chase, said: “Freda has become a well-known feature of the Chase over the years and it was wonderful to meet Peter recently on his trip to visit her memorial. The book is a beautifully crafted piece of work and we are pleased to be able to donate copies to local libraries to raise awareness of the effect of the Great War camps on communities.”
Kerry Hutchings, Stock, Services & Activities Officer (South Central Cluster), Staffordshire Libraries and Arts Service, said: “Staffordshire Libraries are delighted to have been gifted copies of The Anzac Puppy books. Their rarity in the United Kingdom, and the fact that Freda was a local girl, make them even more special.
“We are honoured to be chosen to keep the stories of this faithful dog and our Great War heroes alive.”
The Anzac Puppy is available to borrow from libraries in Rugeley, Brereton, Cannock, Norton Canes, Heath Hayes, Hednesford, Stafford, Baswich and Penkridge.