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Pride of Britain winner Jake tells Shropshire pupils his story of inspiration

By Dayna Farrington | Telford | School events | Published:

A Pride of Britain winner said he hoped he inspired young children during a visit to a Telford primary school, where he spoke about his fundraising story and move into publishing children's books during his late wife's cancer battle.

Jake Coates with pupils Ilka Wilkinson, 7, Oliver Hickman, 7, Arjun Chakkravarthy, 7 and Megan Mitchell, 8

Award winner Jake Coates visited Lawley Primary School on Tuesday and took part in a number of sessions with the pupils to tell his story, take part in reading and writing sessions and sign copies of his published books.

Jake picked up the ITV Fundraiser award at last year's Pride of Britain ceremony and the story of how his wife, Emmy, was diagnosed with an incurable and rare form of thyroid cancer captured the nations' hearts. The couple were determined to go on a fundraising mission on a tandem bicycle across Europe and raise awareness of her condition.

Pride of Britain winner Jake Coates at Lawley Primary School

Emmy, a primary school teacher, died in June 2017, three months short of the couple's first wedding anniversary - but not before they had raised more than £140,000 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which helped Emmy during her illness.

The couple produced two children's books, with Emmy writing and Jake illustrating, which proved a great success.

The pair had started a third book in the Tara and Tyrone book series, when Emmy passed away. Jake completed the third book following his wife's death and is now dedicated to continuing the work they started and keeping Emmy's memory alive.

Jake said: "My visit to Lawley Primary School was wonderful. The teachers at the school have been so welcoming and, I have to say, the pupils here are some of the most well-behaved children I have ever met - they are a wonderful credit to the school.

Pride of Britain winner Jake Coates at Lawley Primary School

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"The year five and six children, they were so inspired, teachers cancelled all plans for the day and they researched Emmy and I, and our story - and they were writing about our morals, smile, love and be kind.

"'Smile, love and be kind' was Emmy's life motto and I feel that carrying on her work and spreading the message is more important than ever. All our books have a moral meaning behind them, whether that is not judging people by their looks or being able to forgive. "

He added: "I hope the children at Lawley Primary have been inspired and that our work and books continue to inspire children.

"Even if it inspires just a handful of children out of the 420 I have seen in Lawley. The school already has a wonderful motto and I think Emmy's motto fits in really well with the school pupils.

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Jake Coates with pupils Ilka Wilkinson, 7, Oliver Hickman, 7, Arjun Chakkravarthy, 7 and Megan Mitchell, 8

"I would love to come back and visit Telford and Shropshire again. I hope to continue Emmy's legacy by selling our books, completing school visits, inspiring others and fundraising for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity."

The fourth book in the Tara and Tyrone series is due to be released for Christmas 2018 and comes from an idea that Emmy and Jake came up with before she passed away. Jake also has six new books coming out this year based on the couple's dog, Molly.

Jake was also guest speaker at Telford Business Club on Tuesday evening at the Best Western Valley Hotel, in Ironbridge. He is today visiting Oakmeadow Primary School, in Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury.

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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