A love for God and children
Lady Roberta Simpson knows all about reinventing herself. After all she did five years ago, when at the age of 70 she become a children’s book author with the release of her first book, Nana’s Bible Stories.
This was no one-off venture. In many ways it seemed she was destined to chart this course as an author. After all her grandmother, J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan.
But though Lady Simpson found herself drawn to writing, after someone criticized her writing style, she shelved her desire to write and focused her energies on being a mother to her five children and being Sir Kyffin’s wife, and helping out her grandchildren.
“When my kids were very young I went to a writer’s seminar and I used to write letters in the paper, particularly when it concerned Israel, that’s my heart,” she said. “So I went to this writer’s seminar and I had to hand in my assignment and the man who headed the seminar wrote through my words with a red-ink pen, and at the end said ‘you can’t write’. And then he said: “I hope this doesn’t discourage you.”
While she was obviously discouraged she took comfort in the fact that she had her children and put writing out of her mind.
“Then one day I was driving out of Simpson Motors and if there was one time I heard God’s speak to me it was then,” she said. “I remember Him saying, ‘You can now write.’ I came home went straight to my computer and wrote my first story Jesus and the little lost lamb.”
A devout believer in God, Lady Simpson obeyed His words and she hasn’t stopped writing since.
“I was so content about being a wife and mother . . . that was very important to me because I wanted to be the best wife and mother that I could be,” she said. “Not that I’ve been the perfect, either one, because I’ve made lots of mistakes. When this happened, becoming an author, from the beginning my husband has been very supportive of me, so it was a natural thing.”
Carving out her own niche wasn’t difficult, though she always had the label of being “Debbie’s mother” or “Sir Kyffin’s wife”.
“Here I was at 70 I became an author which is crazy when you think about. I was thinking ‘I can retire my children are all gone, and now I just love going into the schools and talking to children,” she said. “I sold 45 000 copies of that first book which is not bad for a children’s book. It’s out of print now, and there are reprinting it, because my husband loves that book.”
For Lady Simpson writing children’s books with a religious bent is very important to her, and really an extension of who she is.
“To me it’s a ministry. I’m not doing it for the money,” she says candidly. “It’s fun to know that I’ve written a book, three books and I can give them away. If you’re doing it for money it’s a worry because you need royalties, but I have more fun not having to have that responsibility because then I can just give away whenever I see a need.”
Recently Lady Simpson has been visiting primary schools around the island and talking to children.
“At the beginning of the year I was saying, ‘Lord please open a door, I just don’t want to be home doing nothing,’” she said. “I mean I’m busy but I go to schools and get to interact with children, and encourage them, because not every child comes from a happy home.”
But Lady Simpson’s impact goes beyond just the children.
“There’s a ministry there for women my age. You know I used to go a ladies Bible studies group and I’d hear women there complaining about their age and the pains they were getting,” she said. “I think people think ‘I’m old now and so I’m just going stop living.’ But I think if every grandmother got up and said I’m going to do something, not just for my grandchildren, but if they all got involved in life around us imagine how much better our world would be.
“So my message to grandmothers is arise. Moses started at 88, so I’m in good company.”