Assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway pens novels on historic Shropshire

Assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway has published two novels about historic Shropshire.

Noel Conway, pictured with his wife Carol, has used the history and landmarks of Shropshire as a source for his two novels
Noel Conway, pictured with his wife Carol, has used the history and landmarks of Shropshire as a source for his two novels

Noel, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease, has penned In God Land and Iron, and Tales from the Hill.

The author is paraplegic and uses voice control software to write.

He has been an active campaigner for the right for people in his position to choose the option of assisted dying.

But he has found comfort through his own difficulties by continuing to write and says he loves using Shropshire as his inspiration for his fiction.

Although not born in the county, he is devoted to the area and has lived here for over 40 years, settling close to the Wrekin in Garmston, between Ironbridge and Shrewsbury.

He said: “In God Land and Iron is based mainly in Coalbrookdale as it would have been in the 18th century. The main character, Nathaniel Shawcross, is a young miner working in the Madeley works, owned by the local Quaker business man, Master Richard Reynolds.

“He survives a near fatal accident which prevents him from working underground.

“He then finds work in the Coalbrookdale Works where he comes to the attention of Abia Darby who saves him from imprisonment by the authorities for treason. He flees to the American colonies where he learns that it is not quite the utopian society he thought it to be.

“Eventually he returns to Shropshire where he continues to fight for justice and equality. At the same time, he plays an important role in the building of the first Iron Bridge.

Noel Conway

“His adventures throughout this period bring him close to danger and death as well as testing his moral strength.”

He says the landmark Wrekin plays an important role in the book In Tales from the Hill, adding: “In it we come across the character of Drogo, a Shropshire Celt. His father, Viri, is the tribal chief of the Cornovii, whose capital was the Iron Age hill fortress on the Wrekin.

“Drogo has learned from bitter experience that it is impossible to defeat the war machine of the Romans and tries to convince his father that it would be suicide to do so. But, his father will not listen and the hill fortress is totally destroyed.

“There is much history in this book as well as obvious fiction but the characters and events are convincing and an exciting tale is revealed.”

Mr Conway continues to campaign for the right to legally commit assisted suicide and for families to be protected from prosecution.

In January he attended a Zoom meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski.

He explained then how the ban on assisted dying left people like him with limited options if they wanted to prevent further suffering.

He said: “I could travel to Switzerland for an assisted death, but this is virtually impossible under lockdown.

“I could stop using the ventilator I am dependent on to breathe, essentially dying by suffocation.”

Both books are published by Austin Macauley. Visit austinmacauley.com

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