A Greater Manchester Police Officer has carved out an unlikely success as a children’s illustrator with a hit new book celebrating the legend of the Boggarts of Blackley.
PC Gareth Sullivan, from Heywood, joined forces with his cousin Christian Smithson when they realised that a book had never been written about the mythical creatures said to inhabit the local Boggart Hole Clough Park in Blackley, an area which they both played in as children.
The mysterious Boggarts have been part of Northern folklore for over 100 years and are thought to live under bridges, on sharp bends in roads or wild woodland. Local residents are believed to have left horseshoes above their doors or leaving a pile of salt on the doorstep in a bid to ward off boggarts out of the house.
Gareth initially produced a drawing of a boggart character, which he called Owd Hob and then went on to create further characters Bella Bogart and Keks. This then inspired Christian to start writing their first children’s book “The Boggarts of Boggart Hole Clough” in just two days.
Using Gareth’s illustrations as a key feature, the book was initially self-published by the pair through social media and has since quickly become a big hit with young readers.
In his Greater Manchester Police duties, Gareth has worked as an officer covering the Boggart Hole Clough area himself for five years and has found reaction to the book from local residents has been very positive.
Gareth adds: “The book has been well received from the residents locally with a lot of people who use the park showing interest in the book around Moston and Blackley. It is great to see that people are familiar with the legend of the Boggarts and can relate to the characters we’ve created.”
Following a series of local book signing sessions, the pair are now planning a book club tour at schools across Greater Manchester. They are also looking at hopefully getting the book placed into local libraries.
Gareth and Christian have also now written and illustrated a further seven books which they are planning to publish as well in the future.
Gareth said: “The success of the book has completely taken us by surprise. The whole idea for it started when we were reminiscing about our time spent playing as children in BCH looking for signs of Boggarts.
“We then realised that nothing had really been written for children on these strange creatures and that a whole generation may be unaware of them. One of the most exciting aspects of it has been the fact we have been able to create completely new characters for the stories which really help to bring them to life. In keeping with their origins we have given each character suitably Northern names such as Bazzin and Pump.”