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The gift of inspiration: If Santa hadn’t left that typewriter, would I have become a writer?

Sharon Dempsey asks some NI professionals whether Santa brought a gift that influenced their careers

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Author Sharon Dempsey with her typewriter

Author Sharon Dempsey with her typewriter

Lyndsey Donnelly

Lyndsey Donnelly

Katie Kelly

Katie Kelly

Cara Finegan

Cara Finegan

Sharon's book Who Took Eden Mulligan?

Sharon's book Who Took Eden Mulligan?

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Author Sharon Dempsey with her typewriter

It’s not always the flashiest or most expensive gift that makes for a memorable Christmas.

Christmas presents can inspire new passions and have an impact on later career aspirations. 

When you’re traipsing round the shops in search of the latest must have toy, take a minute to remember your childhood gifts and ask did any of them make a lasting impression?

For me it was a typewriter, duck egg blue and nestled in a portable case with metal latches that gave a satisfying clunk when closed. When not playing ‘offices’, I set about writing stories. Years later with four novels published, I often wonder if Santa hadn’t left that typewriter, would I have found another profession.

Lyndsey Donnelly can remember the thrill of discovering an art set under the Christmas tree.

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Lyndsey Donnelly

Lyndsey Donnelly

Lyndsey Donnelly

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“I was twelve and it had poster paints, water colours, and acrylics with brushes and trays for mixing. That started me off on my painting journey.

“I think my parents knew I was going to do something artistic when I painted Disney murals all over my bedroom walls. I went on to study art and design at school and now have a paint-your-own-pottery studio in Ballynahinch, called Colours.

“I hope that when young children come into to the studio, they feel inspired and that maybe they will go on to do something creative when they grow up.”

Katie Kelly, owner of Belfast-based Lighthouse Drawing Rooms, a bespoke wedding stationery company, can recall receiving Altair geometric design books.

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Katie Kelly

Katie Kelly

Katie Kelly

“They were around way before the current crop of mindfulness colouring books. I used to spend hours and hours colouring the intricate geometric patterns and wouldn’t let anyone help me in case they would go outside the lines,” she says.

“Getting a new grown-up colouring book was a chance to go into my own world and amuse myself. It led me to experiment with drawing and crafting as a teenager.

“When I got the opportunity to work at Lighthouse and then take over the business, I honestly felt like I had come full circle, back at the Altair design books, as the luckiest person to get to colour in for a living!”

Cara Finegan’s interest in dance originated from watching Oliver Twist at Christmas.

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Cara Finegan

Cara Finegan

Cara Finegan

“I just wanted to become a dancer like the chorus girls. Mummy said I could start Irish dancing as part of my Christmas box. Unfortunately, I didn’t last long as they said I moved my arms too much and my mummy was told she was wasting her money!

“I was convinced I was a dancer despite what they said. Later my dream came to fruition when, as an adult I trained in burlesque and pole dancing, going on to win the Irish pole dancing championship two years in a row. I now choregraph The Scarlet Belles dance troupe,” Cara says.

Who Took Eden Mulligan? by Sharon Dempsey (Avon, £7.99) is available now

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Sharon's book Who Took Eden Mulligan?

Sharon's book Who Took Eden Mulligan?

Sharon's book Who Took Eden Mulligan?


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