“I had the idea at the beginning of April and I turned in final copy of the e-book on May 6,” says Phil Clegg on the day his children’s ebook The Nightingales’ Song is published with all proceeds from sales going to NHS Charities Together. “It was a really rapid turnaround and it’s so great to see it out there already.”

The beautifully illustrated short story tells the tale of the Nightingales, the underdog team in football, cricket and rugby as they play against the Badgers, the Bucks, and the Squirrels in the Champions’ Cup.

As the dad of four young children, I know just how important storytelling is for creating childhood memories, while sport brings people together, no matter their background or ability.

Jack Wilshire, Footballer (England and West Ham)

In order to improve, Ed Nightingale seeks the advice of some real-world sporting talents.

It is therefore equally impressive that our Head of Sixth Form was able to contact and persuade some of the country’s most high-profile sports stars to feature in the story.

“I happened to see long-time friend James Calder on TV in his role as lead clinician at the London Nightingale Hospital. He is a one of the world’s leading ankle surgeons and has operated on some of the finest sporting ankles in the world.

So I got in touch one evening to catch up, and everything fell into place: a story about a nightingale that somehow saves the world.

He made contacting footballers, cricketers and rugby players and their friends relatively simple, and their willingness to support the project has been brilliant; they needed very little persuasion.”

Sports stars featured include England footballers Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Watford) and Jack Wilshere (West Ham), England cricketers Joe Root (captain of England and Yorkshire), Mark Wood (Durham) and Danni Wyatt (Sussex, Southern Vipers and member of 2017 England Women’s Cricket World Cup winning squad), and England rugby stars George Kruis (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath) and Tom Curry (Sale Sharks).

Phil came up with the idea for the enchanting illustrated e-book after the cancellation of pupils’ A Levels this summer due to coronavirus.

“I was tasked with creating a bridging programme for the Upper Sixth in what would have been their final term, and started wondering how they would look back on this period in years to come and thought they should ask themselves the question ‘what have I done during this time?’

I was then forced to ask myself the same question and, having written for children on numerous occasions before, I started thinking about the sort of story that would allow younger children to understand what is happening now and to reflect on it in the future.”

Phil is not the only Bradfieldian contributor to the book.

The illustrations were provided by Kenyan wildlife artist and Old Bradfieldian Laura Hutchinson (K 13-18).

She was working on another book with Phil when he suggested The Nightingales’ Song and she was delighted to get involved.

The sports stars featured have been promoting the book since its release and are proud to be involved in the project.

Jordan Henderson said: “These are difficult times for families everywhere, and we all have to keep believing that we will come out together the other side.

The Nightingales’ Song is a story of hope, and it helps demonstrate to children that when we work as a team, we can get through any hardship. I am proud to be supporting this worthy cause.”

Jack Wilshere said: “As the dad of four young children, I know just how important storytelling is for creating childhood memories, while sport brings people together, no matter their background or ability.

“This book weaves these two important concepts together in a powerful way, and I’m delighted to be in a position to help support it.”

The Nightingales’ Song by Phil Clegg, with illustrations by Laura Hutchinson, £3.99, for ages 5+, published by Upside Down Books/Trigger Publishing, is available today from all major e-retailers including AmazonApple Books, and Google Play Store.

Having written for children on numerous occasions before, I started thinking about the sort of story that would allow younger children to understand what is happening now and to reflect on it in the future.

Phil Clegg, Head of Sixth Form

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