Tributes paid to Sunderland grandfather as his legacy continues with his children's book written in the 80s

A grandfather from Sunderland who sadly died aged 81 is being remembered by his family for his ‘brilliant storytelling’ after his children’s book which he wrote in the 80s was published.
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Brian Mitchell, from Roker sadly passed away on Sunday, April 24 but his legacy lives on after his book, Charlie Greenstick was published by his son Louis for his 80th birthday.

Mr Mitchell who owned Churchill Builders, wrote the children’s novel about the tiny, magical man living in a cottage garden with his friends in 1984 but it lived at the bottom of a drawer in his desk for around 20 years.

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His son Louis says his father, who has four children and five grandchildren, gave him the book aged eight and ‘distinctly remembers’ handing it back to him a few days later and asking where he could get the next book in the series.

Brian was 'over joyed' when his book was published by his son Louis.Brian was 'over joyed' when his book was published by his son Louis.
Brian was 'over joyed' when his book was published by his son Louis.

Louis, 39 who now lives in Switzerland says his father will always be remembered for his engaging stories.

He said: “My dad grew up in an era when Sunderland was still thriving from the economic clout brought by Sunderland’s prominence as a shipbuilding port and mining region.

"His father, Billy, had been a prolific storyteller and, I was told, there is a long line of story tellers in the family dating back to a great, great, great grandfather called Charles Mitchell.

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"He was an auctioneer with the gift of the gab, also notorious for selling sugar-coated rabbit droppings to local elderly women suffering with constipation – A cure that was sworn by on all sides.

Brian with his book Charlie Greenstick.Brian with his book Charlie Greenstick.
Brian with his book Charlie Greenstick.

"One quirk of Billy’s storytelling that dad noticed was his use of the term ‘Charlie Creamstick’ to describe someone who had made a fool of themselves. It amused my dad so much that he promised to write a book about him one day and so he did albeit with the name slightly adjusted to Greenstick.”

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Brian’s book was published as a surprise for his birthday during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and has now been heard by four generations of his family.

All profits made from the book will also be going towards charities, Bright Red and Operation Smile.

Brian sadly died aged 81 last month.Brian sadly died aged 81 last month.
Brian sadly died aged 81 last month.
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Louis added: “In 2010, my dad became seriously ill with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. It was only thanks to the intervention of Professor Jackson and his team at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle that his life was saved.

"In support of Bright Red, an organisation that had helped the people who cared for my dad, we held a charity bike ride with some friends so it seems fitting to give the proceeds from the book to a charity my dad wanted to give back to.”

Brian’s funeral is to be held at St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth, on Thursday, May 5 at 12pm and his family say anyone who knew Brian are welcome to come along to celebrate his life.

Louis added: “My dad’s book is a reflection of his dream world, I know he would have loved to be Charlie Greenstick. I must have been eight or nine when I first read it and I promise it is a cracker.

"He was a fantastic storyteller and would just hold the room when he spoke and now with his book published, his storytelling will continue.”

Brian’s book Charlie Greenstick can be purchased here.

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