‘I couldn’t bear to see work unread’

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A MAN with Alzheimer’s who struggles to recognise his own family is set to take the global literary world by storm with an epic novel that took him 20 years to write.

William Thomas, 87, completed The Cypress Branches several years ago but shortly afterwards his health began to fail.

He now lives in an Eaglestone care home where his family, including Sheila, his wife of 60 years, visit him daily.

One frequent visitor is grandson Mike Harris, who could not bear to see his grandfather’s literary work go unread.

Mike decided to split the massive novel into a trilogy and publish it himself in paperback and also as an ebook available to download on Kindle in six different countries.

The first, called Pegasus Falling, was released this week and four generations of William’s family gathered at the care home to celebrate.

It centres upon the story of Sammy, a World War Two paratrooper incarcerated in a concentration camp. There he not only discovers the horrors of the Nazi’s final solution but also the beautiful and mysterious Naomi. When the camp is liberated, the couple are separated and Sammy battles to discover what happened to the woman he loves.

Mike said: “I picked up the manuscript and thought it deserved to be published. With time being of the essence because of my grandfather’s illness, I decided to go down the self-publishing route.”

William, one of the first students to enrol at the Open University, was a parartrooper during the war. He then became a merchant seaman and an engineer.

“The Cypress Branches was his final challenge, one he completed just in time,” said Mike.