A LIFELONG Saints fan has penned his first novel.
Retired sociology teacher Philip Howard, 60, has seen his debut book Braver Than All The Rest brought to life by London League Publications.
The 210-page novel tells the story of Dave and Sarah Burgess and, more specifically, their young son Karl.
The Burgesses are devastated when Karl is diagnosed with the severely debilitating condition, muscular dystrophy, but they are committed to doing the best they can to care for him.
And Karl’s determination to get the most out of life, despite his disability, inspires those around him - including rugby league hero Chris Anderton.
Author Philip Howard is a retired teacher who had responsibility for special needs for many years at a sixth form college in Hull.
The married father of-three and grandfather-of-nine grew up in St Helens and was educated at Knowsley Road Primary School and then Cowley Grammar – where he was taught by, among others, ex Saints ace Ray French.
After 10 years working in the health service, Philip retrained at Edge Hill University and picked up a teaching job in Hull, where he still lives to this day.
But, after picking up responsibility for special needs at the sixth form college, he says he was “gobsmacked by the lives the severely disabled people and their carers lived”.
Philip, who first went to see his beloved Saints back in 1958, told the St Helens Reporter: “I’ve always written bits and bobs and suddenly found myself writing this emotive story, based loosely on some of the people I met while working as a teacher. But it was only when I broke my femur in a fall in 2008 that I suddenly became really determined to see this book through.
“I started writing Braver Than All The Rest five years ago but the fall made me realise that I’d been dabbling with the story for two years and how brassed off I would be if I didn’t knuckle down and get it finished.”
You can get your copy of Braver Than All The Rest at the Wardleworths bookshop in Westfield Street or direct from the publishers - London League Publications Ltd.