Award winning St Albans author planning reunion

Jeanne Willis

Jeanne Willis - Credit: Archant

An award-winning children’s author from St Albans is searching for her junior school classmates for a big reunion.

Jeanne Willis went to Marshalswick’s Wheatfields School in the late 1960s and was encouraged by her Year 3 and 6 teacher, Edna Stevens, who now goes by Jane Waldram, to keep on pursuing writing throughout her life.

The popular author has gone on to win Red House Children’s Book Award and The Red House and Sheffield Children’s Book Awards, both in 2007 for Who’s in the Loo?, and the Silver Smarties Prize in 2003.

She pens a variety of genres, including novelty books and teen fiction.

One of her most popular books is called Tadpole’s Promise - about a tadpole who falls in love with a caterpillar, and they promise never to change. But they both cannot help metamorphosising, and the frog accidentally eats his former girlfriend, now butterfly, before trying to look for her, wondering where she has gone.

The story, which is inspired by a Greek myth, makes teachers teary-eyed but the children love the brutality, she says.

Jeanne often comes back to St Albans to work with children in primary schools, and it was on one of these trips that she bumped into Jane and started chatting.

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It turns out Jane had kept one of Jeanne’s books from when she was 10 years old.

Jeanne said a reunion with all her old friends and teacher would “mean a lot”: “Miss Stevens encouraged me, I was rubbish at maths, I didn’t think I was good at anything, but she encouraged me.

“I was delighted to see her, she hasn’t changed, she didn’t look any different.”

She added: “[Writing] is something I have always done, I have never thought not to do it, it was something I did as a little girl.”

The friends she has not tracked down yet are Ben Raeside, Steven Kleinman, Steven Kentsley, Roddy McInnes, William Islip, Steven Mitchel, Andrew Heffernan, Jimmy Gunn, Ian Clift, Geoffrey Parkinson, Barry Aldridge, Neil Taylor, Carol Hayes, Jane Constable, Sally Parchment, Sally Mitchel, Beverley Hayes, Debbie Grey, Deborah Hiskett, Julie Larner, Susan Turner, Annie Davis, and Jane Potter.

Anyone who can help Jeanne plan her reunion should contact her on