Interview with Emma Crabtree

Interview with Emma Crabtree


Fri 05 November

Emma Crabtree kindly decided to donate £1 from each sale of her book to YBTC; we met up with her to find out her story.
A few weeks ago, we met up with Emma Crabtree at her home in Skipton to discuss her new children's book, The Adventures of Big Boy (and Friends).

The book focuses on Big Boy, a stray neighbourhood cat who Emma and her family adopted when they moved into their new home.

Emma kindly decided to donate a portion of the book's proceeds to YBTC, and has already sold over 200 copies since the book's launch in August 2021.

As we visisted Emma (and her mum!) she was already busy writing her second book, with a plan to publish a series of four or five books about Big Boy and the rest of the pets on her street. 

When we asked what inspired her to write and illustrate a children’s book, Emma told us her story:
 
Emma was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 37. After experiencing headaches at work, and dropping things as well as losing feeling in her left hand whilst driving, she battled to get an MRI scan. Her symptoms were initially dismissed and thought to be caused by a stroke. Emma felt sick in bed one night and rushed to A&E – she said “I knew I was not right as I left the house wearing pink fluffy socks and white slip-on shoes!”

The scan revealed a mass the size of a grapefruit and she was transferred overnight from Airedale to Leeds General Infirmary, where she was operated on within a few days. Emma and her mum both sang the praises of the NHS, saying she received great treatment after her diagnosis, especially from her oncologist at St James's and consultant Dr Hatfield.

Amazingly, despite receiving a devastating prognosis of just 12-18 months, 12 years have now passed since Emma was first diagnosed.

Emma is doing well on her medication but has lost the feeling in her left foot and her short term memory, as well as having her driving license taken away after having a seizure some years ago.

Emma retired early from her job in student support at the University of Leeds, where she had worked for five years managing a team of six staff. However, she told us with a big smile that she had not really missed work at all. She now lives permanently with her mum in Skipton, and rents out her old home in Leeds for extra income.

Emma is one of five siblings, including her twin brother, Angus. Her siblings have been fundraising for YBTC ever since the charity was established as Andrea's Gift back in 2003. They have organised and taken part in events such as charity days at local pubs and swims across Lake Windermere.

Emma has lost some confidence after taking a number of falls recently but is planning to complete a 100-mile walk with friends, which she does annually; this year's will be in Tenby.

The family have had a particularly tough past few years; Emma's father passed away from lung cancer and they experienced Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the wider family, on top of Emma's diagnosis.

Emma always wanted to write a book and loves art and doodling. Her beloved cat Big Boy died in lockdown and this inspired her to create her first children's book, using other pets who live on her street as inspiration for the rest of the characters.

Since publishing her book Emma has already featured in the Yorkshire Times and the Craven Herald, as well as Skipton's local magazine Aspire.

Emma will be signing copies of her book at our Christmas Fair on Saturday 4th December at St Chad's Parish Centre in Far Headingley – so come along to get your copy for a truly wonderful Christmas gift to teach little ones about friendship.
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