Saturday, February 22, 2014
He’s the hero who always saves the day in the seaside town of Willswold and his adventures may soon become essential bedtime reading for families up and down the country.
Burt the Binman was created for eight-year-old William Bateman of Great Paxton who loves everything to do with recycling.
William’s mum Fleur Bateman, 45, of Paxton Hill, created the character and was the driving force behind the self-published Burt the Binman: Burt’s Day Off, the first of 10 books she has planned.
Inspired by her son’s enthusiasm for recycling and his fascination with binmen, Mrs Bateman set about creating the quintessential rubbish collector and his bin truck pals.
That was back in 2007 when her son, who goes to Great Paxton School, was just two.
She said that William’s mild autistic condition made him all the more dedicated to the recycling cause, becoming an “absolute expert” in what we should – and shouldn’t – be doing with our rubbish.
He is so eager that he often wakes up early in the morning just to see the trucks drive past their home.
“It all started when William was very young,” said Mrs Bateman.
“As soon as we started discussing what story he wanted at bedtime, he said he wanted a binman story. I hunted high and low and there wasn’t anything.”
She added: “We holiday in Southwold and often get a beach hut. William has grown up playing on the beach and absolutely loving it, so Burt lives in Southwold although it’s Willswold because William lives in his own little world.”
Mrs Bateman started writing the book in 2010 and her family have helped each step of the way. Her cousin Adam Hedley came up with the initial design for Burt, before St Neots artist Melanie Thorne Nightingale took the helm and created the final illustration. Mrs Bateman’s daughter Bryony, 19, took charge of social media, her son Elliott, 16, helped with the typing and husband Paul, 45, and aunt Jean Hedley were tasked with proof-reading.
So far, she has spent about £4,000 on the project, but hopes to find a sponsor to achieve her future goals.
She sees Burt following in the footsteps of the likes of Bob the Builder and Postman Pat, with a TV series and merchandise.
The initial response, she said, has been promising with hundreds of orders, including a “substantial order” from WHSmith in Southwold.
She said: “A recent loss of a close friend made me realise life is so short. I wanted to do this for William and now is the right time.
“William has been asking for so long to see Burt in a book and on TV. I’ve cracked the first part and I will keep pushing until we get there.”
INFORMATION: The book costs £4.99 and can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.