The sixth instalment in a series of Sunday Times Bestseller list books inspired by Sunderland’s female shipyard workers hits shelves today.
Courage of the Shipyard Girls is the latest novel from the pen of Amanda Revell Walton, a Sunderland-born author whose imagination was sparked by the true story of the hundreds of Wearside women who kept Sunderland’s shipyards afloat while their family members and partners fought on the battlefields of WWI and WWII.
The women’s back-breaking work in the biggest shipbuilding town in the world played a vital role in the war effort and Amanda interweaves true incidents into her fictional series of books which have made the Sunday Times Bestseller list.
Amanda, who pens her novels under the pseudonym Nancy Revell, said: “The background image used on the cover of Courage of the Shipyard Girls is an original photograph taken the day after the bombing of Tatham Street, in Hendon, on October 16, 1942. Without giving too much away about the plot, there is a major scene in this book which happens during that particular air raid.
“As usual, I plundered the Sunderland Echo archives to find out more. Fourteen people were killed – tragically seven of those were children. I can only imagine the kind of courage needed on that awful evening and during the ensuing days, weeks and years as those affected dealt with the loss of their homes and their loved ones.”
She added: “During my research for the Shipyard Girls series I am constantly taken aback by the bravery of those who lived through all the town’s air raids, as well as other bombings throughout the country. It is truly inspirational.”
Amanda, whose family also worked in the area’s shipyards, has dedicated the latest instalment in the saga to Suzanne Brown and other members of Soroptimist International of Sunderland who she is working with to create a memorial statue in honour of the 700 women who went to work in the yards.
Plans are in place to install the statue on the former Vaux site once work has been completed to transform it into office and leisure space.
Amanda said: “The contemporary art work will overlook the River Wear where the women worked. It will stand as a lasting legacy to the real Shipyard Girls and become part of the city’s heritage for years to come.”
•Courage of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell is published on February 21 by Arrow Paperback Original priced: £6.99. It’s also available as an eBook.
•Amanda will be signing copies of Courage of the Shipyard Girls at Waterstones in The Bridges on Saturday, February 23 from noon until 2pm. It is already No 1 on the Sunderland Waterstones chart due to pre-orders.
•To be in with a chance of winning one of five signed copies of the new book, answer this question: where in Hendon did the air raid of October 16, 1942 take place? Email your answer with your contact details and address to Katy.Wheeler@jpimedia.co.uk by 9am on February 25. Usual JPI Media competition rules apply.