Go, Tony, Go! Tony Hudgell’s fundraising journey is now a storybook

15 December 2020

Sarah Thompson was so inspired by Tony’s fundraising journey she decided to write a book about it. ‘Go, Tony, Go!’, which was released last month at her brother Oliver’s publishing house, is already a best seller, and has even received the Royal seal of approval.

Tony, with a copy of the book
Tony, with a copy of the book

Inspired by Tony’s story

Sarah came across Tony’s fundraising story when she saw him on BBC Breakfast. His determination to overcome physical difficulties to give back to Evelina London and follow in the footsteps of his hero, Captain Tom, caught her attention straight away, as did his down to earth personality.

“He continued to grab my attention when he gave the biggest yawn on television during an early morning interview,” says Sarah. “It was cute and hilarious in equal measure.”

After watching him go from strength to strength on his challenge, Sarah and Oliver knew they wanted to do more to show Tony just how special he is.

“Even at such a young age, Tony has become an ambassador for seeing the ability within disability, and a role model for many who will see his cheerful and positive attitude,” explains Oliver.

Sarah had never written a book before, but Tony’s story was so inspiring she was keen to make sure it reached as many people as possible, for years to come.

She decided to reach out to Tony’s family and see if she could write a book sharing his story so that more people like her could be inspired by his journey.

“My one wish is that young children up and down the country feel inspired and motivated to achieve great things, just like young Tony,” says Sarah. “I feel so privileged that they agreed with such enthusiasm.”

Giving back to Evelina London

As Sarah and Oliver got to know Tony and his family’s story more and more, they decided that all profits from their book should go to Tony’s hospital, Evelina London.

“Having learned of the mountains that Tony and his parents had to climb in order to get where they are today, it seemed only right that this should be a not-for-profit venture,” explains Sarah.

“The book was inspired by Tony, and his irrepressibly positive attitude,” adds Oliver. “It would be unthinkable not to support the hospital which saved his life, and which continues to treat him to this day.”

“Tony has achieved so much in his life, and yet that life could so easily have been cut short were it not for the brilliance of Evelina London’s medical teams,” he continued. “Helping them to continue that work means that many more lives will be saved, and who knows what other inspirational achievements may stem from that in the future?”

Since finishing the book, Sarah and Oliver have been blown away by people’s response.

Oliver’s publishing house was inundated with requests for pre-orders before the book was even available.

“Speaking as a small publisher, we are immensely proud to have been given the opportunity to publish this book,” says Oliver. “Even before the launch, it had already sold more copies, in just a few weeks, than all our other books combined for the year.”

“Rather like Tony, who set out to raise £500 and went on to raise £1.5m, we originally anticipated selling 500 copies of the book. It is clear that we will exceed that figure by a considerable margin.”

For Sarah, getting such a warm response for her debut book, and furthering a cause that has inspired her has meant a lot. Since its release, the book has reached the likes of Sir Captain Tom and even the Queen, who wrote a personal letter to Tony thanking him for sending her a copy.

“Like my little source of inspiration, Tony Hudgell, the journey has not always been easy, but perseverance has paid off,” she says.

“It has been a real pleasure and privilege to make that connection with such a remarkable family. It has also been wonderful to work with my young illustrator, Evie Thacker, digital editor Joanne Mitchell, and my kind and tenacious brother Oliver Tooley.”

‘Go Tony Go!’ is available to order online or in person from all independent and chain UK-based bookshops. You can also order it online from the publisher.