Greeting card publisher Splimple has been working with the family of writer James Herriot (real name Alf Wight) and the Thirsk museum, where the TV set of All Creatures Great and Small is one of Yorkshire’s top tourist attractions, to create a new collection of cards and gifts, illustrated by Alison’s Animals cartoonist Alison Lingley that are launching in January.
Founder of Splimple cards, Stuart Caldwell explains how the collaboration came about: “Some 12 months ago our Yorkshire representative sold a spinner of Alison’s Animals cards into the gift shop at the World of James Herriot museum in Thirsk. We realised that they’d never linked up with a card publisher and we thought we’d be a great fit as their audience is similar to those we reach with our Alison’s Animals and Barking at the Moon ranges.”
An approach was made with an outline proposal and a meeting was set.
“I took Alison Lingley, the illustrator of Alison’s Animals to the meeting with me – and it was only on the drive north that she told me how the Herriot books had been her childhood favourites and helped foster the love for animals that’s made the card range so successful, for so long (14 years now).”
Stuart pitched the idea to the museum’s managing director Ian Ashton and a few weeks later presented rough visuals to the late author’s daughter and son, Rosie Page and Jim Wight. “They were taken aback by Alison’s knowledge of the books, and Rosie commented that it was the first time she’d met anyone who knew the books better than she did; and she’s featured in them! We received the green light in June and have been developing the products since then.”
The range launches in January, with Splimple donating 10% of the sales from the cards to the James Herriot Foundation Trust, which supports student Veterinary Nurses in their vocational studies.
Illustrator Alison Lingley is thrilled to be working on the project. She used to stop in Thirsk on the way to Whitby, but says she never dared go into the surgery to meet the real James Herriot. “I first picked up the Herriot books when my Dad started reading them. Anything with an animal theme always drew me in and the early paperbacks were illustrated by Thelwell, another hero of mine. I was quickly hooked and devoured each book as it came out.”
Alison said actually meeting James Heriot’s daughter and son “was the icing on the cake! The whole project has been wonderful. I’m so thrilled to have this connection to James Herriot’s books so many years after first falling in love with them.”