Dear Enid,

Sue Stockdale, Explore: A Life of Adventure

Sue Stockdale, Explore: A Life of Adventure

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. Your Famous Five and Secret Seven books taught me that anyone can transform an ordinary day out with friends and a dog, into an amazing adventure. I was hooked from the first book I read, at ten years old. It sparked my imagination and took me into a world of fun, excitement, and daring do.

I don’t know much about you personally, but that does not matter to me. What is important is how your characters became imprinted into my life. Julian, Dick, Anne, George and of course, Timmy the dog from the Famous Five series. They showed me that being curious is always worthwhile, exploring the unknown is not something to fear and is made easier if you are with friends you trust.

Your books gave me the confidence to embark on a life of adventure. I also absorbed the unspoken life lessons that you weaved into the stories and applied them on my own journeys. Value everyone’s contribution regardless of gender or background, keep connected to other living creatures that we share the planet with, and that food is a great morale booster – a simple sandwich always tastes better eaten outdoors.

I haven’t read one of your books for almost forty years and can’t remember any of the specifics about each story. However, what I do remember is the effect they had, and isn’t that what great books are about? Leaving the reader with a feeling, or a new perspective that profoundly influences the way they approach the world.

Nowadays, I see everyday life as an adventure. I intentionally eat something different for breakfast to remind myself that we should take nothing for granted. To be ready for the unexpected, and to make us think – not just operate on autopilot. I suspect you’d be shocked if you were around today to observe how risk-averse society has become. Health and safety culture would not permit many of the stories you wrote about. Rules and procedures have stifled initiative and ingenuity. Brands and trend seem to trump values and trust. Maybe Julian and Dick would have been poster boys for Zara or H&M. The pace of change has increased, exacerbating the need for adaptability and nimbleness. It means we all need to be prepared to step into the unknown or to take a risk, more than ever.

Frustrated by this reality, I decided to write a book about my adventurous life, as a mix of memoir and message. As I wrote it, I thought of you and how your words inspired the reader. Will my readers get inspired to act? Will they step into the unknown? My hope is that years into the future, someone, somewhere tells their children about how my book inspired them – just like I am reflecting upon now.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your imagination and being the stimulus for my life of adventure. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Best wishes, Sue