My son has a diagnosis of autism and my wife had previously applied to the Family Fund for a grant. The application was successful, and Family Fund provided my son with a laptop. The computer has given him a consistent way to express himself creatively, a place to write and store his homework, and a world to escape to if he’s feeling stressed. A customer at work – a child with autism - asked me where the best place to find a laptop would be. I told her about Family Fund, and she said she had already been helped by the charity.

A few years ago I came up with the idea of writing a story about Santa Claus. The exact details were a little sketchy and the idea had been done thousands of times before, but I had my own spin on the mythology. Then the thought of dedicating the royalties to a charity presented itself. But which one? There are so many to choose from!

It didn’t take me long to decide: Family Fund was the obvious choice. They had done so much to assist the people around me before that I had to do something in return.

Fast-forward to a few months ago, and I was ready to start writing. I knew it was going to be a children’s book, but I needed illustrations. Art isn’t my strong point, and I didn’t have the money to hire a professional illustrator, so I’d basically hit a dead end. One day, while I was promoting a finished book to a class of school children, I came up with the idea of running a competition to find an illustrator from among them. I found a talented illustrator, and was ready to get started.

The first preview draft was ready by late June 2016 – six months to go until Christmas, but that didn’t stop me from ordering a pre-release batch. Forty copies arrived a few weeks later, which raised £90 for Family Fund. I hope to raise that figure to £3000 before Christmas.

If you know somebody who loves reading, “Stranded Aelians Need Technical Assistance” is available as a paperback and as an eBook. The story follows the adventure of Sarah, a five-year-old who stays up one Christmas Eve to prove to her older brothers that Santa Claus is real. But nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to find on the other side of the chimney…

About Tony Black

Tony is a computer repair engineer who lives and works in Doncaster. He also writes science fiction stories for children.

He first contacted Family Fund after realising many of his family and friends were supported by the charity, and he decided that it would be wrong not to try to support them in some way.