Popular local children’s author, Natalie Reeves Billing, has described the overwhelming sense of excitement and pride she felt when attending this week’s Boat of Hope naming ceremony, at which her latest book was performed as a sea shanty.
Natalie said: “As a scouse girl through and through, seeing all three mayors bestow their blessings on our Boat of Hope, and gifting us the right to name her ‘The City of Liverpool’… there aren’t words to describe that moment.
“Seeing so many of the city’s dignitaries and all our esteemed guests joining together in celebration and song was a life changing moment. One I will never forget. I’m so very proud.”
The Boat of Hope naming ceremony (which took place at Liverpool’s Maritime Museum on 26th October) was attended by a host of high-profile supporters.
Bernie Hollywood OBE, the man behind the campaign, welcomed guests including Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram; Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, and Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Mary Rasmussen.
Natalie is the Early Years Ambassador for Bernie’s Boat of Hope challenge, for which he’ll row 3,000 nautical miles alone to raise £1 million for mental health charities and open up a conversation about depression.
Natalie wrote her new children’s book ‘Bernie and Boatie’, from which she’s donating all profits to the Boat of Hope’s official charities, The Samaritans and Love Rowing, to support Bernie’s epic quest.
The author says she was more nervous about how ‘Bernie and Boatie’ would be received than she would usually be during a book launch because she knows that every copy she sells will help to contribute to the Boat of Hope charities, supporting causes she’s passionate about.
The book is available as an audiobook and an animated trailer, narrated by Melanie C and Doctor Who star Sacha Dhawan, and Natalie had been counting down to watching ‘Bernie and Boatie’ being performed as a sea shanty by Radio Merseyside’s, Billy Hui and his fabulous SINGME choir.
The author said:
“To imagine being in the place where I grew up, surrounded by friends, to watch the naming ceremony and hear the words from my book being performed as a sea shanty is just overwhelming! Thinking of all those people singing something that I’ve helped to direct, and which I’ve invested so much time and love into is incredible.”
“I’m passionate about reaching as many children as possible with our message, and I’ve found launching ‘Bernie and Boatie’ much more nerve wracking than launching my other books, because it’s not just about me – it’s about trying to raise as much money as possible to support children’s mental health initiatives and reaching as many families as I can.”
After the excitement of this week’s launch, the author says she’s very grateful to everyone who attended and to everyone who’s already bought a copy of her book, which is designed to be a useful resource for families to talk openly about mental health.
‘Bernie and Boatie’ is available to purchase via Amazon, with all profits from the sale of the book going to charity. The book is available as a paperback for £7.99 or for Kindle for £3.49.