Skip to main content
Derek Smart with his book 'Charlie's Date with Destiny'
Derek swapped his paintbrush for pen to write his first children's book
The book tells the tale of two adventurous squirrels

A story about two squirrels and their adventure across the UK to find a cure for a disease killing their species has been made into a children’s book – to raise money for charity.

Grandfather-of-four Derek Ortenjay Smart, from Wells, has penned his first book ‘Charlie’s Date with Destiny’ to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).

The book tells the story of two red squirrels Angus and Alistair who set out to find an antidote to a pox virus brought into the UK by their American counterparts, the grey squirrel.

The two squirrels, upset at seeing the population of their peers dwindle, head to the south of the UK from Scotland after hearing the antidote can be found in Somerset.

Along the way they pick up Charlie the chipmunk who was mistakenly left behind by his owner Tommy, with the intention of reuniting the pair when they arrive in the west country.

Throughout their journey, the trio face a number of difficult situations, having to deal with them along the way.

The pair find the antidote at Glastonbury Tor and in turn, save red squirrels from falling victim to the pox.

They also reunite Charlie, who has learnt some valuable lessons on the adventure, with Tommy in Bristol.

Retired businessman Derek, 75, said: "The book tells the story of reinforcing what we all have inside us.

"It looks at what truth, moral values, trust, kindness and self-worth really means."

This is the first book Derek has written.

“I am a keen painter,” he said.

"This time I have put down my brushes and picked up a pen instead."

All profits from the sale of the book will go to Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), a charity that Derek and wife Linda have supported for many years.

“People who read the script told me I really should publish it as a book,” said Derek.

My grandchildren have read it and said they couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Derek has already raised more than £2,000 for CHSW by selling his paintings at an exhibition at Wells Museum

He and his wife have also visited the charity’s Charlton Farm site, donating a trio of ornamental deer which stand in its grounds.

“We have always been inspired by the work of the charity,” he said. “And we wanted to raise money to help the children and the families it supports.”

The book, costing £9.99 and aimed at children between 7 and 11-years-old, has been published by White Magic Studios.

Derek is also hoping to do a book signing at the CHSW charity shop in Wells over the coming weeks.

People can order a book from Derek by emailing