Ribble Valley council boss pens first novel

Author Ossie Hopkins at his book launch with (left) the Mayor, Coun Bridget Hilton, and the Mayoress,  Mrs Kathleen Hill.
Author Ossie Hopkins at his book launch with (left) the Mayor, Coun Bridget Hilton, and the Mayoress, Mrs Kathleen Hill.
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Former council chief Ossie Hopkins got a civic send-off at a pub for his debut novel.

Mayor of Ribble Valley Coun. Bridget Hilton was at the Higher Buck, Waddington, to launch “Chalk for Cheese”, a tale of a man and a woman growing up separately in the 1950s and ’60s, seeing the world through different eyes.

His characters Jay and Jill – a privileged Lancashire man growing up in Norfolk, and Jill, a working class Tynesider – were inspired by a real-life couple who have celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.

Mr Hopkins, a former teacher and education authority chief at Birmingham, was Ribble Valley’s chief executive from 1989 to 1997.

After leaving, he set up the Institute for Customer Service, which recognises front-line staff, and took up consultancy work. He also helps son Chris, who lives at Read, with his haulage business.

Mr Hopkins (68), who lives at Grindleton with wife Jo, explained that the title ‘Chalk for Cheese’ came from the unscrupulous medieval merchants’ practice of passing off chalk for cheese in the hope people couldn’t tell the difference.

“The point is that Jill and Jay are polar opposites apparently and anyone will be able to spot the differences between them. Or will they?”

He said writing the book had helped him appreciate the expertise of ‘proper authors’ and is planning follow-ups.

The book is published by Silverwood Books, Bristol, at www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk, available from online retailers such as Amazon and Kindle at £9.99 paperback and £3.99 ebook.