An Aintree man who was made redundant when Comet went into liquidation last Christmas has told Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson how he now has designs on a new career as a children's author and illustrator.
Bill first met Comet Aintree store sales manager Brian Prescott last year when the news was broken that the electricals giant was going under.
Brian had worked for the company for 24 years before the dgoors closed on the store for the last time just days before Christmas.
The 53-year-old married father of two took some time to consider what he wanted to do next after being made redundant.
But instead of sitting back, he immediately turned to his love of writing and drawing to tell the tale of Chloe the Campervan. He found himself a publisher and now, in between writing and illustrating the ongoing tales of Chloe, he finds himself giving readings in local schools and he is preparing to give his book signing event on Saturday (November 16 from 12-2pm at Formby Books).
Brian told Bill: "It was really devastating for all of us at Comet when the store closed last year. I had been there for 24 years. So when the company went under, I lost my household income, that I had relied on for nearly a quarter of a century.
"After it all happened, I took some time out. I've always been good at sketching and writing. A friend of mine who sells VW Campervan salt and pepper pots said what she really needed was for someone to write a children's book so she could generate some interest.
"So I thought, well why not. So I gave it a go. I created the character of Chloe the Campervan, sketched out a design for her, and away I went.
"I wanted the main character to be female because there are lots of kids' books that feature male main characters. But the Chloe books are suitable for boys and girls.
"I worked on the first book late at night, so my family knew nothing about it. I was then lucky enough to find a brilliant local publisher, Beaten Track, based in Burscough, but the owner is also a teacher in a secondary school in Maghull.
"When I first showed my family the finished product, they were shocked. They loved it. Which has been one of the biggest compliments of all."
Brian contacted some of his local schools and was immediately invited in to read his stories to the pupils. Since then, he has had a steady stream of requests for copies and for the next instalment in the adventures of Chloe.
Brian said: "There really is a lot of interest in Chloe. I didn't expect it would be this popular.
"But I now have two books in the series already available. A new Christmas book featuring Chloe comes out this week and I am already working on the next in the series. I really do love working on these books. And I am just delighted that young people, and their parents, love them too.
"There's a real buzz from children who read my books who want to read more and more about Chloe.
"As the stories evolve, they are getting more and more education so that we can encourage children to read and enjoy the stories while learning at the same time. That's got to be the goal for any children's writer."
Bill Esterson said it was great to see Brian taking the opportunity to utilise his creative skills to forge a new career or himself.
Bill said: "Losing your job, particularly after working for the same company for 24 years, can be devastating. But Brian has taken it as an opportunity instead.
"He has utilised his skills in writing and drawing to come up with these Chloe the Campervan books which really are excellent. Children clearly like them and there's lots of demand.
"It is interesting that not only is he using his creative skills to write and illustrate the books, but he is now able to use his sales skills to try and make a business out of this. And even better, he is using a local publisher and local bookstores to sell them.
"Brian kindly gave me a copy of Chloe Goes on Holiday for my children - they loved it. I will definitely be buying some more in the series for my children for Christmas.
"I wish him all the luck with his new venture and my children look forward to following the adventures of Chloe."
Copies of Chloe the Campervan's adventures are available at Formby Books in Formby Village and Broadhursts in Southport. Brian will be signing copies of his books at Formby Books on Saturday (November 16) from 12-2pm.