A FORMER teacher has returned to school to read children her new book inspired by a rare white stag she spotted in the North-East countryside.

Author Sarah Fae, a former teacher at Beaumont Hill Academy in Darlington, visited Marchbank Free School, which is also part of the town's Education Village, to read her book Ghost the Christmas Stag.

Pupils were treated to an inaugural story-telling around a roaring camp fire in a magical grotto created in Marchbank's forest school.

The story, which is illustrated by Kathryn Holeman, is aimed at inspiring pupils to focus on conservation over commercialism this Christmas and was based on a real experience of coming across a rare wild white roebuck in Northumberland in 2019.

The Northern Echo:

She said: “The White Hart is steeped in spiritual significance, a rare and elusive creature whose appearance foretells of great change. His very existence in the wild enables us to understand a miraculous ancient truth, nature can and will survive, even if it seems against all odds.

“After seeing the stag the tale seem to form perfectly in my head in rhyme. I picked up a pen and four hours later it was there, like I was just a vessel for the story.”

The book sold 999 copies on pre-release and the publisher has already asked for support from another printer to meet the demand.

With a background in radio journalism, Ms Fae taught at Beaumont Hill for three years until her practice of forest yoga became a career, also leaving her time to write for a magazine.

“Ghost is a real symbol of hope, his existence and survival in the wild is nothing short of miraculous. I feel his appearance is a timely reminder that we should protect and respect that which is sacred in all beings and creatures,” she added.

Marchbank’s head of school Tess Wright said: “Our children have been amazing right through the pandemic and we have never closed. They have worked so well in their bubbles and we wanted to make the run up to Christmas as special as we possibly could.”

Beaumont Hill principal Adrian Lynch added: “We have all been delighted to see Sarah again and are thrilled her lovely book is doing so well – it certainly inspired the children in their creative writing.”

The festive dell for the reading was created by site manager John Craggs.

He said: “The forest school proved to be the perfect setting for the event. It is an amazing facility and you can see the effect it has on the children as they enjoy being among the trees some of which date back to the 1800s. It will be better than ever soon as home builders Vistry, who have been constructing houses on the old DfE site next door, have promised to provide us with an outdoor classroom.”

Ghost the Christmas Stag is available to buy online with a portion of the proceeds donated to ReWilding Northern England.