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Author Deanne flying high

PASSION FOR WRITING: Author Deanne Heron

WHEN DEANNE Heron was a little girl, she wanted to become a pilot, but teachers told her she couldn’t. Instead, she discovered a passion and a talent for writing, and these days she is soaring to new heights.

But, despite achieving success as a writer and seeing four of her books in print, the news that she was nominated for a national award sent her into a tailspin.

Deanne, from Manchester, was presented with a trophy for Female Author of Colour at the Bex Live Bexellence Awards hosted this year in Wolverhampton.

OUTSTANDING

The Bexellence Enterprise and Community Awards seek to recognise the accomplishments, visibility and profile of outstanding businesses, professionals and members of the Black community.

“I was really shocked to have been nominated. I had heard about this award from previous years, and when they introduced the Author of Colour Award, I thought, ‘That’s nice, I’ll have to keep an eye on that and see who gets nominated’. When they told me it was me, I was blown away. I was so honoured. It meant a lot even if I didn’t win anything.”

She received a telephone call reminding her to attend and to wear her best dress, and by then, she could not contain her excitement.

“On the night they announced me as the winner, my head was just swimming.”

Deanne, who turned 60 on November 1, was born in Jamaica and came to live in England in 1967 when she was just nine years of age. It was a tough era to be growing up in Britain, but it was when her family was housed in one of Europe’s largest council estates that she faced the harsh realities of racism.

As one of the first black families to be relocated to the new estate in Wythenshawe, south Manchester, integration was difficult and Deanne, who had already endured years of teasing because of her strong Jamaican accent, was singled out yet again.

Eventually, a sympathetic teacher took Deanne under his wing, encouraging her to write poetry and giving her books to take home and read.

And although her wings were clipped as a youngster when teachers dissuaded her from becoming a pilot, she has now spread them far and wide in her roles as a counsellor, trainer, foster carer and cognitive behaviour therapist.

She has published poetry and two volumes of short humorous stories, called ‘Pardner Money Stories’ in 2011 and 2012, which she has read on local radio, at community events and had published in a Jamaican newspaper.

Written in standard English along with Jamaican patois, Deanne’s stories take a whimsical look at the interactions of four generations of the extended Jamaican family in Britain.

“I was in a pardner for years, and when the lady who ran it died, it hit me that a huge part of our culture had fallen apart.

“I wanted to capture that and my happy memories of my childhood for my children and my grandchildren, because most black children don’t experience this anymore.”

Deanne’s recent landmark birthday means that she has been considering her retirement years, but rather than stopping all together, she has aspirations to “put her feet up” and write her third volume of short stories.

“Writing was always my first love. I call it my therapy. From coming here as a little girl and suffering horrendous racism, I found that poetry was a really good way of reflecting and summarising what I had experienced.

“My perfect place to write would be where my grandmother would take me – a place called Horse Wood in Portland. My plan is to retire there, but Gambia would be a close second. the Gambians love Jamaicans – every time I visit there the scenery reminds me so much of home.”

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