DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Books

Strangers rally round to gift boy his lost Pratchett books collection

Avid reader Freddie Findlay lost his entire collection of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series in a freak flood – a week later they were replaced by strangers

Freddie Findlay Pratchett Big Green Books

The dad of an autistic boy who lost his treasured Terry Pratchett novels has praised selfless strangers on the internet who rallied around to replace all 41 Discworld books in one week for free.

Avid reader and Pratchett fanatic Freddie Findlay, 14, was left distraught after a pipe burst in the bathroom of his home near York, dousing and destroying the novels on the shelf below on January 29.

Dad Oliver posted the heartbreaking news to his followers on Twitter and was met by an “unbelievable” response. He told The Big Issue that Freddie, who reads up to eight books every week, had been left in a “blind panic” by the loss.

“We heard a funny noise then the ceiling came through and everything became saturated. It was pretty disgusting and the books were ruined, they were in a puddle of sludge on the floor,” he said.

“With Freddie being autistic, he looks at the books every day and counts them to make sure they’re all there. They are a comfort thing for Freddie as well. When he saw the books he had an instant meltdown and went into a blind panic. It caused distress and anxiety and he was really upset.”

https://twitter.com/oliveriswriting/status/1222532201935523840

The tweet was picked up 2019 Big Issue Changemaker Simon Key of Big Green Bookshop, who has found success on the social media platform with his weekly #buyastrangerabook initiative.

And he mobilised his army of Twitter followers to help out. Within half an hour, offers had been made to replace all the books while Pratchett’s daughter, writer Rhianna Pratchett, had also been in touch with the offer of “loot”.

“I’m always moaning on Twitter – it’s where I go to moan – but I put it on Twitter because I have a lot of parents of autistic children on there,” said Oliver. “Next thing I knew, Big Green Books picked up the tweet and it caught fire.

“Simon (Key, Big Green Bookshop co-founder) got in touch with me and within 20 minutes they’d got all 41 books. It was really quick, I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t expect the entire collection.

“It was fantastic.”

A week later, the entire collection arrived at Oliver and Freddie’s home and the youngster is so overjoyed that the books have yet to be returned to the repaired shelf.

Oliver told The Big Issue that the experience his restored his faith in social media.

“Freddie was absolutely delighted. With him being autistic, he doesn’t dance around and cheer but he clasps his hands and shakes. He was absolutely made up,” he said.

“I’ve not even got them back on the bookshelf yet because he is still looking through them all and putting them in the order he likes them in.

“It’s really overwhelming that Simon has organised that and I couldn’t keep up with replying to people. I’ll be honest, I just kind of sat there and filled up.

“Twitter is kind of like a bin fire most of the time, it’s horrible! But something like that happens and it’s absolutely amazing – social media can be a good thing.

“Thanks so much to Big Green Books and everyone who donated – it really is staggering that people would do that and it blew me out of the water.”

Big Green Bookshop co-founder Simon Key added: “I like to do things that make me happy and I’m fortunate that my followers point me in the right direction. It’s nice to be in the position that I can rally people to help in situations like this.

“There is so much toxicity on Twitter and this proves it can be a positive place. All the best to Oliver and Freddie.”

Image: Oliver Findlay

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
From stars of children's books to the best in crime writing: Here's the best UK book festivals in 2024
Books festival illustration
Books

From stars of children's books to the best in crime writing: Here's the best UK book festivals in 2024

'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom
Illustration by Chris Bentham
Books

'The threat to our rights': Women share what keeps them awake at night in honour of Ulysses' Molly Bloom

Top 5 children's books for summer
Books

Top 5 children's books for summer

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?
Books

'Future is as shaky as its ever been': Will Baillie Gifford funding row kill our book festivals?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know