Fiona and her family
LOCAL musician Fiona Bennett is having a busy year. Over the Easter weekend, both her classical piano albums were voted into the Classic FM Hall of Fame Top 300, but more recently she has turned her attention to the keys on her laptop and has just published her first book Hero The Greyhound.
“I have adopted four ex-racing greyhounds in the past 10 years,” says Fiona, “and I wanted to highlight just how many retired dogs are out there, looking for their forever homes.”
The story revolves around Simon, a boy with autism – based on Fiona’s son Zachary) – his mum, Simone (loosely based on Fiona herself) and Handsome Hero, a champion racing greyhound who’s injured so badly at the track, his owners abandon him because he will no longer make them any prize money. “I invited the Retired Greyhound Trust to get involved with the project. We financed the book together and the charity will receive half of all proceeds, so I’m hoping it will be a bestseller.
“Ultimately, I’d love to see it made into a feature film.”
Every year, more than 8,000 racing greyhounds retire in the United Kingdom alone and the RGT successfully manages to home approximately half the dogs. The others remain in kennels and their food and keep is funded by the charity.
“Greyhounds are gentle, undemanding pets and given that Zachary used to be terrified of dogs, adopting our ‘girls’ has been such a positive thing for him as he now wants to ‘chat’ to every dog he meets” says Fiona.
“I can’t praise them highly enough although you do need to understand that life beyond the racing kennels can be quite scary for some dogs. You need lots of patience and understanding but once they’ve settled in, you can’t imagine life without them. Greyhounds are sometimes known as ‘40-miles-per-hour-couch-potatoes’ because they spend so much time snuggled up on the sofa.”
Fiona adopted her first greyhound, Saracen, from the National Canine Defence League shelter in Hamstead Marshall (now Dogs Trust) and this was the beginning of her love affair with this gentle, loving breed. She is also asthmatic and suffers with various
allergies, but greyhounds don’t affect her at all.
The front cover of the book was illustrated by Fiona’s elder son Dominic Rae, who is off to university this month, to study music technology and sound art.
“Dominic has been a total star” says his mum. “In the last year alone, he has taken all my publicity photos, designed two album covers for me and now, illustrated the front cover of my first book. I am so proud of both my sons.”
Hero the Greyhound is available from The Retired Greyhound Trust website shop.
The book is available from the Retired Greyhound Trust web shop and until Saturday, it will be on sale at the reduced price of £6.50. Half the proceeds will go to the charity in order to help them find homes for ex- racing greyhounds. The book will be officially launched on Saturday at the Great Greyhound Gathering, which this year takes place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Fiona will be there to meet, greet and sign copies of the book, after which it will retail at £7.99. If you live
in Newbury or the surrounding areas and would like to buy a copy directly from Fiona email her at firstname.lastname@example.org