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Hampshire neighbours create character and book encouraging children to enjoy the outdoors

PUBLISHED: 11:35 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 16 December 2014

Liz and Moira

Liz and Moira

Archant

Liz Nankivell and Moira Blackwell are on a mission to encourage children to enjoy the outdoors, with a little help from a certain furry friend

Next door neighbours, Liz Nankivell and Moria Blackwell had their ‘lighbulb’ moment during a leisurely stroll along the River Itchen. Having both enjoyed fun and adventurous childhoods in the county, they realised this was something they wanted to instil in the children of Hampshire today, and the idea of a children’s book was formed. Liz continues: “I love walking, but can see it’s not as fun for a child. So one of the things I used to do with my daughter was go out in advance and prepare a treasure hunt. Looking back, I can see clear links between what I did for my daughter and the way we have created our Binky stories as adventures that can be relived by the children who read them.”

Seeing a gap in the market for a locally based children’s book, Liz and Moira set to work on creating their lead character – Binky Bear. Each adventure is based around a different location in Hampshire that Liz and Moira have enjoyed visiting. Liz explains: “Once we’ve found a new location, we walk around it several times to work out the storylines and characters.”

With Moira having trained as a photographer, it made sense for them to base their books around her photography of each location, bringing in characters through the imagery and tying them together with verse written by Liz.

Working from their kitchen tables in Alresford, this truly is a cottage industry; the pair have even installed a stile to enable them to hop over their shared fence with ease. With such a broad customer base and a great deal of support from retailers such as Harrods and Waterstones, Liz and Moira often work late in to the night to keep up with demand. But knowing they are encouraging children to step away from a screen and get outside is what drives them as Liz explains: “We know that two of the biggest challenges that parents face is getting children into the outdoors and inspiring in them a love of reading. We believe we can help because Binky Bear books are written in rhyme, and young children love to learn and recite the verses. We also hope that the books provide inspiration for wonderful trips outside.”

Using local and social media to promote themselves, Liz and Moira have also paired up with Hampshire schools, where the books fit in well with the curriculum. With visions of selling Binky Bear’s adventures to children all over the UK and overseas, Liz and Moira would love for Binky to become the iconic British Teddy Bear. But for now, their focus is on creating another book for 2015 and expanding their current merchandise. Head to binkybear.co.uk for a Christmas gift offer, downloadable maps and to find out local stockists.

***

The facts

• Name: Liz Nankivell and Moira Blackwell

• Business name: Binky Bear

• Length of time in business: 4 years

• Number of employees: We are a team of six including two very supportive husbands!

• Ethos: Inspiring in children a love for books and reading and awakening in them a desire to explore the world around them.

• Location: Alresford

• Contact: binky@binkybear.co.uk, 01962 736136

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