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Shropshire butterfly man Stephen's debut novel takes flight

The warden at a Shropshire butterfly reserve has drawn on the area's past as a military airfield as inspiration for his first novel.

Stephen Lewis looks at the view from the control tower at Prees Heath Common.
Stephen Lewis looks at the view from the control tower at Prees Heath Common.

"Postcard From The Common" by Stephen Lewis is loosely based on events at Prees Heath Common during and after the Second World War and is on sale at BookShrop in Green End in Whitchurch.

Stephen has been Butterfly Conservation’s warden at Prees Heath Common reserve, which lies between the busy A49 and A41 roads, since it was purchased in 2006, and all royalties from sales will be going to the charity to help fund its continuing restoration of the common.

The reserve supports the only surviving colony of Silver-studded Blue butterflies in the Midlands.

A rare Silver-studded Blue butterfly at Prees Heath Common

During the war an airfield was built on the lowland heathland common, known initially as RAF Whitchurch Heath and later as RAF Tilstock, and was used for bomber and glider training. The old control tower still stands and has been turned into a bat roost and bird nesting site.

Summarising his novel, Stephen says: "A plane crashes and a series of events begins as, seven years later, two friends, Luke and Alina, try to unravel the truth about what happened.

"As they seek answers they are faced with increasingly urgent questions about the background to their own lives, as well as the need to act as the common itself, its landscape, heritage and wildlife, is threatened with destruction."

Postcard From The Common

He added: "Most of the book is concerned with the postwar period, although the story of the plane crash and the pilot is a key part.

"Although loosely based on Prees Heath Common and what happened there, it is a work of fiction, and the common is not named in the text. Of course it has a strong ecological aspect to it, but I hope it would appeal to the general reader, as well as generating some funds for the charity Butterfly Conservation."

The novel is priced at £8.99 and Stephen will be at BookShrop on Saturday, November 23, from 11am.

Butterfly Conservation is a British charity devoted to saving butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout the UK.

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