The story behind the story

Death is never a nice thing to think about, and it’s always a difficult thing to talk about—particularly with children. But for families like Lisa’s there is no getting away from it.

Lisa wanted to create a book that not only expressed her undying love for her daughters, but that directly addressed the fact that she will die. “Other books don’t really do the job I want them to,” she says. “They talk about mummy being in the stars or something. My girls wouldn’t understand that. They’d want to know when I was coming back or when they could come and visit.”

The result of Lisa meeting Michelle was a deeply moving poem that perfectly expressed Lisa’s feelings.

Lisa Wells was diagnosed with terminal bowel and liver cancer at the end of 2017, aged 32. She had just given birth to her second daughter, Saffia, sister to Ava-Lily, five.

Lisa’s doctors gave her a devastating prognosis. She was told she had between just two and twelve months to live.

Since then, Lisa has worked tirelessly to raise thousands of pounds for charity, all while undergoing chemo, working and raising her daughters. Along the way she has enlisted ‘Lisa’s Army’ — a group of friends, family and admirers committed to supporting Lisa’s family through the months and years ahead.

Lisa has always enjoyed writing and has kept a blog during the course of her treatment, saying, “Writing really helps me address my feelings and also sort of relaxes me at the same time. I feel better somehow for putting it all down somewhere.”

But Lisa hasn’t stopped at keeping a blog. Determined to leave a lifelong legacy of love for Ava-Lily and Saffia, she approached local children’s author Michelle Robinson for guidance — and Only One of Me was born.

Give my child your time and love.
Lead them far and wide.
Keep them safe and hold them tight
Long after I have died.

Lisa’s story immediately struck a nerve when it was shared widely online, resulting in a publishing deal with Graffeg Books and a JustGiving crowdfunding pot to support the project that reached its target in days.

Two books in 12 weeks!

Publishing a full colour picture book — two, in this case! — is usually a slow and considered process taking around two to three years in all. Lisa didn’t have that long. In order for allow Lisa to share the book with her family in her lifetime, it was completed and available to buy in just twelve weeks — largely thanks to a superhuman effort from illustrators Catalina Echeverri and Tim Budgen.

Catalina and Tim burned the midnight oil to create two stunning books along with design and editorial help from Graffeg, with additional support from Emily Lamm of Orchard Books and Deirdre McDermott, Tanya Rosie and Maria Tunney of Walker Books.

Lisa's wish

It was Lisa’s wish that Only One of Me would help other families facing bereavement long into the future, bringing them comfort and raising funds for two of her favourite charities, Mummy’s Star and We Hear You (WHY).

On behalf of Lisa and the entire team behind the book, we would like to thank each and every one of you who has donated, spread the word and supported us to make Lisa’s vision a reality. THANK YOU!

Catalina Echeverri, illustrator of Only One of Me – Mum.

Tim Budgen, illustrator of Only One of Me – Dad.

Lisa Wells died in August 2019. While her passing broke many hearts, the incredible things she achieved in her too-short life continue to help them heal. We are immensely proud to have helped Lisa achieve one of her goals. The loving voice and generous spirit of this very special mum live on within the pages of her book.

– Michelle Robinson

Buy the Book:

Only One of Me - Mum
Only One of Me - Dad