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Pride of Britain winner in Shropshire
14 Dec 2017
by Kirsty Smallman

A Pride of Britain winner will be visiting two Shropshire primary schools next month hoping to inspire youngsters with his fundraising story and his move into publishing children’s books during his late wife’s cancer battle.

Jake Coates picked up the ITV Fundraiser Award at this year’s Pride of Britain ceremony and the heart-wrenching story of how his wife Emmy was diagnosed with an incurable and rare form of thyroid cancer, the couple’s determination to go on a fundraising mission on a tandem and raise awareness of Emmy’s condition reduced the nation to tears.

Emmy, a primary school teacher, died in June, three months short of the couple’s first wedding anniversary, but not before they had raised more than £140,000.

Her legacy lives on, however, and Jake will be visiting Lawley Primary School in Telford on January 9 and Oakmeadow Primary School at Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury, the following day.

Jake will also be guest speaker at Telford Business Club during the evening on January 9 at the Best Western Valley Hotel in Ironbridge.

Members of the public are welcome to join the evening at £15 per ticket which includes a two course meal.

Jake will be telling his story and signing copies of the couple’s children’s books.

Kirsty Smallman, parent governor at Lawley Primary School and director of J&PR organised the county visit.

Mrs Smallman said: “I emailed Jake after watching him on Pride of Britain, which left me and millions of others in tears.

“His story was so inspirational – what he and Emmy achieved despite her poor health showed true strength and how Jake has continued fundraising despite Emmy’s death is amazing.

“Emmy was a primary school teacher and I thought her love for children and education should be spread further. I felt everybody could take something from this story and their journey.

“I asked Jake if he would like to visit Lawley Primary School and also offered the opportunity for him to visit Oakmeadow Primary School at Bayston Hill, where my business partner’s children attend and he said ‘yes’!

“We are thrilled he agreed to visit both schools and are really looking forward to welcoming him – his story will inspire so many children.”

Jake will be doing a book reading to reception and Year 1; showcasing writing and illustrating skills with Year 2, 3 and 4 and hosting an editing and publishing session with Years 5 and 6.

Jake said: “Emmy and I visited a handful of schools together whilst she still could and I just feel that – if people don’t mind that it is just me – then I am so happy to do whatever I can.

“So far I have had schools ask me to be the resident artist for a whole week, whilst others have asked me just to read one of the books to a small group.

“I am very much looking forward to visiting Shropshire and very grateful for the opportunity. To continue to spread Emmy’s message is an absolute honour.”

Jake and Emmy had been childhood sweethearts, dated and then gone their separate ways before getting back together again and deciding to marry. After Emmy was diagnosed the couple set about fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, who helped Emmy during her illness.

They set about a tandem cycle ride across Europe, which went more than halfway to achieving the couple’s £100,000 fundraising target. They then produced two children’s books, with Emmy writing and Jake illustrating, which proved a great success.

The pair had started a third book in the Tara and Tyrone book series when Emmy passed away in June.

Jake threw himself into the work after his wife’s death and duly completed the book. He is now dedicated to continuing the good work the couple started and keeping Emmy’s memory alive as an inspiration to others.

To book a ticket at Telford Business Club email secretary@telfordbusinessclub.com and for all other enquiries email Kirsty@jandpr.com