TV personality, actor and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a festive audiobook in memory of a young Perthshire schoolgirl.
Ruby Stewart from Inchture died in January last year, aged six, three years after she was diagnosed with a rare tissue cancer.
The book is titled ‘The Unicorn Who Saved Christmas’ and was written by Derek Sword, a neighbour and close friend of Ruby’s family.
Derek wrote the book after being inspired by Ruby’s trip to Lapland in December 2019 with her parents Claire and Andy.
He boldly approached Stephen Fry’s agent online and was delighted when the QI host responded the following day agreeing to help.
Derek, 54, said: “When I thought of making my story into an audio book I Googled ‘best children’s book narrators’ and Stephen Fry’s name appeared.
I got in touch with his agent with a slim hope of him getting back to me but he came back the following day saying ‘Stephen would like to help,’ which was amazing.”
Derek added: “Stephen Fry is known as one of the best audiobook narrators in the world having narrated all the Harry Potter books and the works of Sherlock Holmes, to name just a few, and brings a wealth of experience to the book which really brings the story to life.
“To have him narrate this book for us is just incredible and we are honoured that he would give up his time to do this for us.”
The Unicorn Who Saved Christmas is about a young unicorn called Ruby who goes to visit Santa in Lapland and jumps at the chance to help Santa deliver presents to children all over the world when she hears one of Santa’s reindeer is unwell.
The inspiration came from Ruby’s love of unicorns, which also influenced another book, written before her death, titled The Unicorn With The Ruby Horn, which raised more than £15,000 for the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group. Ruby was heavily involved in its creation.
Proceeds from the book will go towards Super Ruby’s Rhabdo Raiser, a special named fund at Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) to research rhabdomyosarcoma, the cancer Ruby had.
Ruby was diagnosed with stage four alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in September 2017. She was four years old and had just started school.
It often develops in the large muscles of the arms and legs but can also develop in the chest, abdomen, pelvis and head and neck area.
The only sign that there was something wrong with Ruby prior to her diagnosis was subtle swelling in her left ankle.
Scans revealed metastases, a secondary growth a distance away from a primary site of cancer, in her spine, pelvic area and lungs.
Within weeks she was unable to walk or stand due to the tumour on her back impeding her spinal cord.
She immediately started intensive chemotherapy, which successfully melted away the tumours. Ruby also started to get the feeling back in her legs and gradually learned to walk again.
But a few moths later, in February 2019, she complained of a sore back. Scans revealed she had relapsed.
The cancer had only returned in the areas previously treated with intense radiotherapy, leaving only one option – manage the disease and prolong Ruby’s life as long as possible.
She died peacefully on January 3, 2020.
Proceeds from this latest book will add to the £170,000 that has already been raised by Claire and Andy, along with other supporters, in Ruby’s memory.
‘Incredible and honoured’
Derek, a capital investment and asset management technician for Perth and Kinross Council, said: “I wrote the story with Ruby in mind and hopefully it highlights her spirit, her never-give-up attitude, the fact she never complained and always wanted to help others no matter how poorly she was, while still being just a little girl at heart.
“Claire and Andy took Ruby to visit Santa in Lapland, which was such a great adventure for her, that I felt that I wanted to add something else to the story and create another adventure.
“Ruby was very poorly at the time of writing, and I hoped it would give her a bit of a lift, but it wasn’t until quite a while later that I thought I’d like to try and use it to raise money for Ruby’s fund.”
The Unicorn Who Saved Christmas is available to purchase online.