A PE teacher is hoping to encourage more boys to write poetry after publishing his first children’s book.

Marc Hyatt, who teaches at St John the Evangelist CE Primary in Carterton, is following in his grandmother’s footsteps after seeing The Banana Tree get published.

Mr Hyatt, who grew up in Witney and has taught at St John’s for 10 years, has written a range of stories for his own children but sought to get published during the pandemic.

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He said: “I’ve been writing for 20 years but didn’t do anything with it. Becoming a dad spurred me on as my own children love the stories, and that pushed me to look at getting published during lockdown.

“I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to publish as they’re private stories, but I’ve made the plunge and gone for it.

“A friend did all the illustrations and the book was published last month.

“It was quite emotional, my grandmother was a published poet so she’d have absolutely loved it.

Witney Gazette: PE teacher Marc Hyatt with his book The Banana Tree. Mr Hyatt is pictured with his own children. Picture: Ed NixPE teacher Marc Hyatt with his book The Banana Tree. Mr Hyatt is pictured with his own children. Picture: Ed Nix

“As a young man teaching sport, it’s not something usually shouted about but it’s got some of the boys reading which is brilliant.

“It’s especially nice to see the boys talking about poetry and having a go at it as with poetry, you can put your feelings on paper.

“The reading and writing skills, as well as physical and social skills, of children have been impacted during the pandemic so to do something to address some of that is very rewarding.

“It’s also been lovely for my own children to see the progression – they remember when I wrote it and have seen the transition to holding the first book.”

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The Banana Tree is aimed at children aged three to seven, and Mr Hyatt explained how it could be the first of many.

He said: “The story is something like what Julia Donaldson would do – it’s about a man who gets washed up on a desert island and survives off a banana tree.

“A monkey is also washed up during the storm and the two learn to survive without knowing each other is there.

“The two learn to share and that’s the key message of the book.

“The local community has been brilliant and everyone has wanted a copy, which is funding the next book I’m hoping to publish for World Book Day next year.

“Getting the first book is tricky, I’ve been lucky working within a school to be able to advertise it.”

Witney MP Robert Courts visited St John’s before the end of term, and said: “It was a pleasure to meet with local teacher Marc Hyatt, who has written a fantastic children’s book.

“My children loved the story and beautiful illustrations, and are really looking forward to his next book.”

The Banana Tree is available via Amazon and Waterstones.