A man who lost his disabled sister in childhood has been praised for using his inheritance to help others. Rob Martin was still affected by the death of his teenage sister Pauline from when he was just six, so he used the money inherited from his late mum Kath to publish a children’s book Joe and Dusty Save The World.
The adorable picture book, which champions people with disabilities, tells the tale of a young disabled boy called Joe and his trusty support dog Dusty and their adventures together. The book explores themes of kindness, fun and love reports the Liverpool Echo.
Rob, 56, who is formerly from the Wirral and now lives in Greater Manchester, said: “Joe and Dusty is a book about a young boy who just happens to be disabled. I deliberately don’t name Joe’s disability because it is not a book about what he finds difficult or can’t do. “The story’s happy ending relies entirely upon Joe’s strengths.”
He added: “Whilst it’s a book about space and aliens, the underlying message is about celebrating people for their differences. It is also about the power of human connection, which is a very important message for everyone after the isolation we have all experienced over the last couple of years.”
Rob and his real-life dog, also called Dusty, have been asked to visit schools and events around the north west to talk about the book and to highlight why being different is a strength. The freelance copywriter and marketing consultant began working on the plot several years ago but it was hearing a poem written by his sister at their mother’s funeral in December 2019 that inspired him to write the book in catchy verse format.
Just weeks after his book was published he was left reeling when he was given a late diagnosis of autism. He said: “Suddenly everything started to make sense. Even I could spot that I shared many traits in common with Joe, and when I asked my sister and my husband if they had ever suspected I was autistic, they both said that they had.”
He feels publishing his book is best way to honour the memory of his mum and sister and to navigate his new understanding of himself as an autistic man. He said: “Joe and Dusty shines a light on the positive contributions disabled and neurodivergent people make to their families and to wider society.”
He added: “I could have spent my inheritance on an extension or a fancy holiday. But publishing a book can have a much bigger impact.”
Joe and Dusty Save The World has received support from high profile fans including Coronation Street legend Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played the late Hayley Cropper in the soap, and Sarah Gordy MBE, a TV and stage actor who has Down’s Syndrome. They have provided forewords for the book.
Julie, who recently set up fundraising group 500 Acts of Kindness , said: “What a beautiful idea this is to put a child with learning differences and his dog companion at the centre of the action.” And Sarah said: “Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. We need different people to make the world better in lots of different ways.”
Rob already has a number of other ideas for further adventures for Joe and Dusty and hopes the book will be the first in a successful series. You can buy a copy of Joe & Dusty here.