Hungerford Primary School

Published on Thursday, March 28th, 2024

When I was 10, Dick King-Smith, my great grandfather, came to visit my school! It wasn’t long after we had moved from London to a tiny village on the west coast of Scotland—it was the first time Grampa Dick visited us in Ardfern, and was in fact the only time he made the long journey north before he passed away a few years later.

My whole school only had about thirty pupils, so it was what you might call an intimate gig for him. He read to us, told us about his life and his writing, probably made some silly jokes, and answered our questions. He did many school visits during his career, including to many of his grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s schools.

Since Ambrose Follows His Nose came out, the book I co-wrote with my great-grandfather, I’ve followed his example and done several school visits. It’s definitely my favourite part of promoting the book—always interesting, always fun, and always funny. (When you try to write books that make children laugh, it’s both humbling and reassuring to realise that nothing you devise will be half as funny as what most 7-year-olds come up with off the cuff.)

Last November I went to Hungerford Primary School, where my first-cousins-once-removed Polly and Owen attend. I was on a family holiday to Wales with Polly and Owen (and their mum and dad) the summer that I was working on the final edits of Ambrose, finally using the printed proofs, which means Polly is one of the first children to ever get a look at the book. And I got to read the new paperback to Polly and her friend Milo in Wales last year!

So, all things considered, it felt appropriate to do a proper school visit to Polly’s school in Hungerford, just like Grampa Dick did for me and so many other kids.

Hungerford Primary is full of avid readers so we had plenty to talk about. They loved hearing about Dick’s life and writing, and already have a few of his books in their library. Now they’ve heard me read from Ambrose too, and they have a new book to add to their library!

As always, the highlights of the visit for me were the many questions the children had for me about writing and books. And as an extra treat, I got to hear some of the Year 6 pupils’ own creative writing that had done very well in a recent competition! Which, as I told them, is exactly how I started out getting practice for my own fiction writing.

Big thanks to Eleri, Tania and Alex for organising the visit and putting me up… and even bigger thanks to Polly, Owen, and Milo for being hilarious and making this bit of my work much more fun.

Josie Rogers (Dick’s great granddaughter).


  • Tania says:

    I cannot express how much you have inspired the children of Hungerford! When I go to change year 2 library books each week there is always someone who wants to take a Dick King-Smith book home. The young man photographed clutching Ambrose begged me for weeks to borrow “the new special book with the rabbit” before his turn came around. Thank you for visiting us and sharing the love of books 💗

    • Charles Hurst says:

      How lovely to hear that, Tania! Thanks so much for sharing that, and do say hello to the children from the whole King-Smith family. Charlie (Dick’s grandson).

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Dick King-Smith site illustration