Dick Sheppard inspires Catching Lives
The character of Sheppard, who appears within the Harbledown book series, is based upon the historical figure of Dick Sheppard (1880-1937). Dick’s tireless work for the homeless in both St Martin-in-the-Fields and Canterbury has inspired the writers at Catching Lives. We have cast him as a loving father figure, caring for the suffering animals.
Peace Pledge Union
Dick Sheppard’s work for the Peace Pledge Union provides an added dimension to his character in the book series – a loving voice for peace and reconciliation amidst the backdrop of the aftermath of the Second World War. The desire for peace and justice were strong themes that came from the clients in the brainstorming sessions at the beginning of our writing journey.
Dick Sheppard’s Great Dane
Dick Sheppard had a beautiful Great Dane dog and it is the grandson of this dog, Biggles, who appears in Harbledown Hope and lovingly rescues the young fox, Harbledown, from the ravages of a fox hunt. Through the story it is Sheppard’s voice that Biggles hears encouraging him onward during the challenging journey into Canterbury.
Places inspired by Dick Sheppard
In the latter part of his life Dick Sheppard was the Dean of Canterbury. In recognition of this he is buried within Canterbury Cathedral. There is a plaque and stained-glass window dedicated to him within the cathedral.
Harbledown Hope’s story begins with a fox hunt occurring in the fields overlooking Canterbury near Goodnestone. The spot where the young fox’s parents are killed is the point at which the spire of Canterbury Cathedral first comes into view. At this place is an information board detailing the pilgrimage taken each year from St Martin-in-the-Fields to Canterbury to visit the burial place of Dick Sheppard who remains the inspiration behind The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields continued work with homeless and vulnerable people.
Dick Sheppard also had strong links with the Greyfriars in Canterbury. There is a small, disused shed within the gardens of the Greyfriars that has been used within our books as the refuge the animals use. This shed represents the Catching Lives building and the shelter provided for the homeless of Canterbury. When we visited this location, the remains of a fire and tinned food was evidence of someone having recently used it as a shelter.
Each of these places feature within the Harbledown Hope story and the photographs were taken on our visits while researching for the book series.
Harbledown Hope is dedicated to Dick Sheppard
Moved by the work of Dick Sheppard for the homeless of London and Canterbury, Harbledown Hope is dedicated to his memory. All profits from this book go to Catching Lives homeless charity in Canterbury to support their work with the most vulnerable in society.