Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

First aid is brought to book by bird

An Ulster paramedic couple are taking JK Rowling's lead and launching a new children's super-hero book series, set in one of the province's most famous historic landmarks and aimed at consolidating kids' first aid knowledge.

Local paramedic Brendan Magill and his community nurse wife Ann's creation, 'Team Fergus', tells the story of an unlikely medical emergency super-hero and his unusual bunch of friends.

'The Secret Stone of Stepminder' book and website introduces Fergus, a talented first-aider who just happens to be a goose, along with his madcap support team - an epileptic former doctor, a diabetic secret agent and a one-eared dog who's not quite as innocent as he seems ? who together form Team Fergus.

Published by Stepminders, the compact 115-page book has also been illustrated by fellow paramedic Gerald W Law.

Mr Magill explained: "This is the first title in the Team Fergus series and we have high hopes.

"Along with its accompanying website, the stories are designed to put Fergus the Goose in situations where he'll have to draw on his wealth of first-aid experience.

"The aim is not to teach children first-aid, but to consolidate what they already know or to give them the incentive to go out and learn from one of the many superb organisations providing such teaching.

"It has a reading level of seven to nine-year-old children and has been produced with the help of teachers from three Carrickfergus primary schools.

"The characters, however, will appeal to children much younger as well."

And the books are proving popular with a local health charity that is keen to produce a similar story specifically dealing with their health focus.

Stephanie Leckey of The British Heart Foundation (Northern Ireland) said: " Team Fergus is an excellent depiction of real-life emergencies using exciting characters that children can relate to.

"We've been so impressed by the stories and their illustrations that we are now involved with Stepminders in the production of a book specifically for the British Heart Foundation's Heartstart UK Schools Inclusive Programme. "

Mr Magill also revealed that the publishers are in negotiations with both an animation company to produce a short pilot film early in the New Year and their web designers to make the Team Fergus site fully interactive, with club membership.

He concluded: "It would be wonderful if the series really took off, but I think we'll have to just wait and see if it can come up to JK Rowling's standard!

"We simply hope to get the important first aid messages reinforced to kids across Northern Ireland.

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