Matthew and his brother Joel, with their father Noel English
Matthew and his brother Joel, with their father Noel English

’I miss daddy’ tells the poignant story of Matthew English who lost his dad to Covid

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - 'I miss daddy', a children’s book based on the experiences of seven-year-old Matthew English from Mitchells Plain, tells the story of his grief, and the memory of his father Noel who died on January 17 this year, as a result of Covid-19.

Noel, a tyre technician, was 45 years old at the time of his death and had worked at Golden Arrow Bus Services for 20 years.

On December 26 last year, he was admitted to hospital and a few days after celebrating his 10th wedding year anniversary in a hospital bed, the father of three succumbed to the illness.

Matthew’s mother Alicia recalled: “One day Matt and I were sitting in the lounge, he was busy drawing and at the same time talking about his dad, and he said ‘I really miss daddy’. I then decided to ask him questions and he went on to speak about what a great dad he was; he was busy drawing pictures of himself and his dad and our family. I recorded everything he said which basically became the story. The idea came to mind to scan his crayon drawings and make it into a book for us, something personal.”

'I Miss Daddy' is written by seven-year-old Matthew English from Mitchells Plain and tells the story of his grief in losing his father Noel English who died of Covid-19.

Matthew’s mother Alicia recalled: “One day Matt and I were sitting in the lounge, he was busy drawing and at the same time talking about his dad, and he said ‘I really miss daddy’. I then decided to ask him questions and he went on to speak about what a great dad he was; he was busy drawing pictures of himself and his dad and our family. I recorded everything he said which basically became the story. The idea came to mind to scan his crayon drawings and make it into a book for us, something personal.”

She said this happened while she was having parallel conversations with God and seeking to find a higher purpose in Noel's death.

“Noel lived a Christian life, I was not prepared to accept that he is just dead. Then I received a message from God to take Matthew’s story as a representation of so many kids out there who have lost loved ones. Just as much we are grieving there are many others out there. Constantly, I allowed them to say I miss daddy, and speak about the memory they have of kicking a ball with him. We replay video clips and see how that is helping Matthew.

“That is where the inspiration came from, I saw how it helped my son and decided Covid-19 won’t triumph over us, we will triumph over it.”

Together with an illustrator, she got to work developing the characters and getting it ready for launch on Noel’s 46th birthday on August 25.

’’I feel happy (about the book) because now I can read a book about daddy, he was a great father,’’ Matthew said, adding that he missed playing games with his dad the most.

Aimed at grade R to 5 pupils, the 32-page full colour book is available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa at R55 a copy.

Due to limited funding only 3000 copies have been printed of which 1000 will be donated. Alicia has been calling on donors to come on board to fund the printing of more books, to make it available to as many children as possible who cannot afford to buy a copy.

To purchase the book English can be contacted on [email protected]

Cape Times

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