AT 71 most people are enjoying their retirement, but Marion Cunningham has just embarked on a new career as an author.
She is set to see her lifelong dream come true when her debut book, For The Love Of Amelia, is soon released.
The story is based on the reallife tale of her grandparents, and gives an insight into wartorn Britain.
Mrs Cunningham, of Harrow Road, Canvey, spent the past ten months finishing the book to make sure it was ready in time for 2014 – the year the country marks the centenary of the start of the First World War.
She said: “I actually first started writing the book when my grandparents died in 1976.
“I wrote it down so I could remember everything they had told me, but with it being the centenary this year I knew I just had to get it finished once and for all. I’m not doing it to make money – it’s just a lifelong ambition.
I want to keep my family’s memory alive forever.”
For The Love Of Amelia is set in the heart of London’s East End.
It is where Mrs Cunningham spent much of her childhood until her parents decided to relocate to Canvey in 1960.
They had the choice of three newly-built estates in Canvey, Basildon and Harlow, but chose the island because of happy memories spent enjoying the sunshine on Essex beaches.
The book is based on the true story of Jesse Fredrick Warren, a french polisher by trade, his wife, Amelia, and their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Beatrice.
The start of the Great War in 1914 brought with it an end to regular employment and the beginning of great hardships for the family, who were living in Bethnal Green.
Just a year after the war kicked off they found themselves starving and unable to afford gas or coal. Faced by poverty, Jesse signed on and volunteered for the Army without telling his wife.
He was always honest about the fact he was not fighting for king and country, but fighting to put food on the table for his children and beloved wife – hence the title For The Love of Amelia.
Mrs Cunningham said: “I just wish my grandparents were here today to see their story in print.”
Unlike one million soldiers who lost their lived in battle, Jesse came out of the First World War alive.
The second part of the story follows the lives of Jesse, Amelia and their family in postwar Britain and also takes the reader back to the young couple’s first ever meeting.
Mrs Cunningham believes the story of overcoming hardships and sharing good times together will make readers both laugh and cry.
She said: “It is a family story, but I think it will be interesting to a lot of people. Not just men who fought in the war but everyone, because the second part of the book deals with the aftermath of the war.
“A lot of people on Canvey and other parts of Essex actually originate from the East End, so the story will ring bells with a lot of people.”
Ever the perfectionist, Mrs Cunnigham even recalled the book from the publisher when she noticed a few word repetitions, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
She said: “I know the story so well that I just wasn’t seeing any mistakes when I wrote it.
“My daughter told me not to worry and that it doesn’t matter, but to me it does. The book is so special and important to me that I want it to be perfect.”
! For The Love Of Amelia is available from Amazon at www.