Up in the hills of the North York Moors between Glaisdale and Lealholm is a lady who makes writers dreams come true.
Ann Bowes is the woman behind Fryup Press and for the past decade she has published books for budding authors who would never have had chance to see their words in print.
She was born the fifth of seven children to Bede and Muriel Hodgson on a small hill farm in the hamlet of Tranmire, ten miles out of Whitby, home to a hand-milked dairy herd of eight cows, some pigs and a sheep stray on the moor.
Ann married Alan who was a postman in Rosedale Abbey before he became a gamekeeper on the Jervaulx estate. The couple settled back home on the Danby Moor estate and their family grew up in Fryupdale where they lived for 34 years until Alan retired. They now live at Bracken Hill.
She had no experience of the publishing world but Ann has brought about dozens of books and has seen how much her efforts have meant to others. Her favourite moment was seeing the look of a lady who had written a book but had kept the manuscript hidden away for 20 years.
“When I took Jean (Collins) her book she just held it in her hand and stroked the cover with tears in her eyes. She told me that she had never thought she would see the day when it would come to reality.
“The pleasure it gave me to see the smile on her face was really moving. This lady was in her 70s and had pretty much given up all hope of ever seeing it in print.”
Ann started publishing after writing her own book Riding For Life, a story of her coast-to-coast journey on a horse she had bred in which she tells of it helping her come to terms with life and the inevitable realities we all have to face.
She’d had no intention of writing a book, but how her long distance ride, completed over seven days from Morecambe Bay to Runswick Bay, came about can be traced back to both her childhood dreams and a tragic event that took place in 1994 when Ann and Allan’s son Dan’s life was sadly swept away having driven into a newly-made ford near Danby.
“I left school with my O levels and spent a short time in Manchester where I stayed with my sister. I had been looking for a job but had to come home at 16 because my mother was taken ill and was bedridden. I became housekeeper for mum and dad, two brothers who were working and another brother and sister who were still at school.
“Once mum was back on her feet I took a job at Rosedale Abbey Post Office & Stores where I met Allan. We moved to Ellingstring with two baby children when Allan took his first gamekeeper job at Jervaulx and I had another baby whilst we were there.
“Allan was then given the opportunity to work on the Danby Moors estate and we moved to Fryup. That’s when I had my first horse at the age of 23. I’d always loved horses but I’d never ridden because we could never afford one.
“Allan had always promised that if we ever got anywhere that had land that I should have a horse. He was a heavy cob called Napoleon and had belonged to a rag and bone man in Middlesbrough. He was a lovely old horse and was so gentle.”
Ann’s other lifelong dream had been to go on a great adventure on a horse. She’d held charity fund raising days in Fryup selling jams, soft fruit and vegetables for Leukaemia Research as a result of a very good friend having been diagnosed, but one year she fancied doing something different.
“I’d developed my skills with horses, how to school them and bring them on. My ambition had been to breed my own and eventually I did. He was born three weeks after we lost Dan and so we named him Danny Boy. When he was five-years-old I thought that instead of a garden day I’d do a sponsored horse ride. There were two horses and two of us, as I took a companion Maggie Barraclough.
“After finishing the ride I put together a scrapbook of my experiences with photographs and description of where we rode each day. I put together a couple of chapters and showed them to my sister in Middlesbrough. She said it would make a really nice story but that I would have to give the background to it. That’s when I started going back to my childhood and it became more autobiographical.”
Once Ann completed the book she struggled to find a publisher and that led to her friend Richard Burridge, owner of legendary racehorse Desert Orchid, suggesting publishing it herself.
“Richard had read it and had been full of praise. He’s since written a film script for it. I followed up what he’d said and published 1,000 copies. My big break came when ITV’s Dales Diary interviewed me about it and that helped me get to a second 1,000 copies sold.”
A labour of love
The success of Ann’s first book has seen her go on to publish two collections of poetry, prose and short stories for the Egton Bridge Writers Group, two historical novels written by local authors, several autobiographical memoirs and a novel about a little ewe called The Moorland Tale; amongst others.
She has also written her own novel Friends Forever and has another in the pipeline.
“It’s a labour of love for me now,” she said. “There are so many people who want to have their books published and I’m happy to help.”
For more details about Fryup Press, visit www.annbowes.co.uk