Son’s rubbish obsession inspires mum to write bin man book set in Southwold

Fleur Bateman and her son William, with her new book 'Burt the Bin Man' .Fleur wrote the book about her son Will who loves bin lorries and is set in Willswold, which is based in Southwold. Fleur Bateman and her son William, with her new book 'Burt the Bin Man' .Fleur wrote the book about her son Will who loves bin lorries and is set in Willswold, which is based in Southwold.

Monday, March 17, 2014
6:31 AM

A young boy’s obsession with rubbish has inspired his mum to write a book about a bin man and his adventures in a town based on Southwold.

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An image from Fleur and William Bateman's new Burt the Binman book called Burt's Day Off.
A view of Southwold lighthouse with Burt's lorries in the foreground.An image from Fleur and William Bateman's new Burt the Binman book called Burt's Day Off. A view of Southwold lighthouse with Burt's lorries in the foreground.

Fleur Bateman began telling Burt the Binman stories to her son William when he was two years old.

After more than five years, and some encouragement from friends and family, she officially launched her first book - Burt’s Day Off - in Southwold on Saturday.

William, now eight, is mildly autistic and is obsessed with anything to do with rubbish and recycling.

Such is his passion for the subject, he once bid £3,500 for a full-size bin lorry when his mum briefly left her eBay account unattended, asks to look inside dustbins wherever he goes and owns his own set of miniature bins at home.

Mrs Bateman, who lives in Great Paxton near St Neots, said: “Wills is on the autistic spectrum and everything is magnified. Rubbish is a big thing to him.

“The whole thing with Burt the Binman started from a young age. All he wanted to hear was a story about a bin man and there was nothing out there.

“We made up our own stories and Wills invented all the characters and their names.”

Mrs Bateman, 45, said she set the stories in Southwold - renamed Willswold in the book - because it was a favourite family holiday destination.

The book features hand-drawn images of familiar scenes by artist Melanie Thorne Nightingale, including the pier, Southwold shops and cafes and the lighthouse.

Burt also own his own beach hut, which is based on the hut Mrs Bateman and her husband Paul always rent when they visit the town with William and his older siblings Bryony, 19, and Elliott, 16.

Burt the Binman has a team of friendly lorries and always saves the day.

In the first book, Burt’s Day Off, he helps reunite a tearful young girl with her lost teddy bear.

Mrs Bateman said she intended to write a series of stories based on the character and was already planning the next book, which will be based on last year’s tidal surge and feature Burt turning the wrecked beach huts into something positive for the town.

■ Burt’s Day Off costs £4.99 and is on sale in Southwold at Chapmans of Southwold in High Street, Joules Clothing in East Street, Wells Photographic in Queen Street and WH Smith in Market Place. It can also be bought online at burtthebinman.co.uk

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