AN OXFORDSHIRE teacher overcame years-long depression through writing children's books.

In 2016 Lawrence Prestidge – a 30-year-old Drama and Special Educational Needs teacher from Abingdon – had to be signed off from work.

He was struggling with stress, anxiety and overwhelm, and was eventually diagnosed with depression.

Looking for a solution to his mental health problems he re-discovered children's literature.

So he could cope better with how he was feeling, the secondary school worker started re-reading books by well-known authors like Roald Dahl and David Walliams.

Mr Prestige quickly realised the escapism these works provided.

Herald Series:

Lawrence Prestidge in 2016

He revealed it was not long until he decided to pick up a pen himself and write stories for youngsters.

The same year one of his first stories Terror at the Sweet Shop was taken on by Leicester-based independent publishing house Troubadour.

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Several years later the author is proud to announce he has five successful works under his belt.

The Abingdon resident reflected on his long journey through mental health illness and how his profession affected him.

He admitted that without a doubt, becoming a children’s author has helped him conquer his illness.

Mr Prestige added his work continues to give him the focus that he needs to be 'more than just ok'.

While the government-enforced lockdown has been difficult for the 30-year-old to cope with at times, he said he has been focusing on writing stories and inventing characters as much as possible.

His latest book Penguin Beach, which will come out in August, is intended for youngsters from age seven to 11.

It tells the beautifully-illustrated story of a loveable penguin named Clyde who is the star of the show at London Zoo’s Penguin Beach.

After only a few years in the publishing industry the local author has made a name for himself amongst young readers.

He is best known for his book Terror at the Sweet Shop – an incredible story about a group of friends saving their beloved sweet shop from the hands of an evil owner.

Published in September 2016, it was followed by other popular works that include Rolo and Chester's Fairground.

Mr Prestige, who describes writing as his 'dream profession' also continues to work as a freelance tutor, and before lockdown began he was making dozens of school visits across the country including William Morris Primary School in Banbury.

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The school on Bretch Hill opened the Prestidge Library in 2017 and welcomed the young author along to cut the ribbon to the facility named in his honour.

He also runs its drama programme.

He said: "My favourite place to write is in the peace and quiet of my home in Oxfordshire.

"Some of my best ideas have come to me though when I have been out and about, so it is always handy for me to have a notepad and pen with me wherever I go.

"This is definitely my dream job and I am incredibly grateful to be able to be a children's author for a living."

Mr Prestige added that the reason he loves what his profession is because he 'gets to inspire' children with his stories.

He continued: "It is so important that children learn to read and appreciate books from an early age and if I can help them do that, then I am a very happy writer."

Before becoming a drama teacher in Abingdon, Mr Prestige performed as an actor in Disneyland and theatres across London.