Keir’s tragedy inspires mum to be an author

An inspirational mum who wrote a poignant short story about her young son’s tragic death has won a national writing competition.

Angela had no idea her diary would end up being published.

When Angela Cran started writing a diary she kept during the illness of her son Keir, little did she know it would end up being published.

Eight-year-old Keir MacGruer died while waiting for a lung transplant for a rare lung disease, iodiopathic pulmonary hypertension.

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His death inspired her to put her feelings into writing, as well as become a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

Angela with Keir in April 2008

Angela beat off competition from 600 other entries to win a place in Journeys, a special book being published as part of Book Week Scotland.

Angela’s story Shopping For Lego willl feature alongside entries from 37 other winners and author contributors such as Andrew O’Hagan, Jenni Fagan, Tom Pow and Lucy Ribchester.

Angela said: “It means such a lot. Writing about my younger son’s life-shortening illness helps me deal with emotions I find hard to express out loud.

“Writing also helps me remember special moments which are often difficult to think about, but still incredibly precious. It feels really poignant but also encouraging to be included in this book of Journeys, thank you.”

Keir was diagnosed with the illness when he was five, in 2009.

She added: “Keir was amazing, he was such a little battler. He was a real laugh, a real comedian. You have to realise how much he crammed in to his wee life.

“This is like I am making a positive out of a tragedy.

“When he was diagnosed in 2009, aged five, I started to keep a diary...not every day, but when I felt a need to write something down.

“I did not want to forget stuff. I was really chuffed they chose it for the book.

Keir was a big fan of lego.

“It was a memory piece of a trip we had made. When I saw the Scottish Book Trust looking for people to submit 1000 words in Journey I decided to do it as an exercise. I just wanted to challenge myself.”

The competition was held by Scottish Book Trust, a national charity changing lives through reading and writing, and encouraged intrepid storytellers across Scotland to share in writing the journeys that meant most to them – from a trip around the world to revisiting a precious moment from the past. Contributions included poems as well as prose.

To celebrate the fourth year of Book Week Scotland, which ends on Sunday, more than 150,000 free copies of Journeys will be given to people throughout the week.

The books will be distributed in local bookshops, public libraries, prisons, hospitals, visitor information centres, ferry terminals and train stations.

Angela added: “It’s a really nice idea to give people the chance to have their voice heard that wouldn’t otherwise get into print so easily.

“It feels quite poignant because it’s the first piece of my own writing that I’ve had in prince. The reason I am writing is so sad, but at the same time I like to write. It’s a bitter-sweet thing.”

Angela, who once worked subbing stories on a magazine, wants to continue her writing, but said her main focus was working with CHAS.

She added: “They helped us with Keir as a family so it feels nice to be able to give something back and it feels like I’m doing something positive to help families in similar situations.”

However, she continued: “Everyone that knows me knows writing is something I love doing. It takes me out of myself. I am going to keep writing. I find it helpful and I enjoy it. I really want to write a book about my family’s experiences with Keir, how amazing he was.

“Getting this in print has spurred me on to think I’ve got to make time to write every day, even if it’s just a few words. I’m writing about Keir and our lives at the moment.

“Even if I don;t put it into print I hope I would have it for the family, for my older son Finn, who is 14.”

Despite his illness, Keir became a well-known face of the Raigmore Children’s Ward Appeal and helped raise thousands of pounds.

Journeys also features original commissioned contributions from some new voices in Scottish literature including Malachy Tallack, Lucy Ribchester, wildlife film maker Gordon Buchanan and a special contribution in Gaelic from Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir.

Marc Lambert, chief executive of Scottish Book Trust, said: “This project has given people of all ages living in Scotland the inspiration to write the story of a special journey – for some for the very first time. We received hundreds of submissions from members of the public, sharing beautifully unique stories of real or emotional journeys and are delighted to be able to give away 150,000 free copies of this wonderful book for Book Week Scotland 2015.”

A spokesman for the Archie Foundation praised Keir’s fundraising work.

He said: “Keir’s support of the ARCHIE Foundation’s Appeal to develop a new Children’s Ward at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has been exceptional. We cannot imagine a more dedicated, hard working and inspiring friend of the charity or a more worthy and suitable young lad to appear as the face of the appeal on so many occasions.
Keir showed great courage and strength throughout his illness and his happy, infectious smile will be greatly missed.”
Angela’s story can be found at: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/writing/journeys/story/shopping-for-lego%C2%AE