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Tragic father's book set for new markets

PUBLISHED: 09:42 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:31 05 July 2010

THIS month, Phil Stoddart should have been celebrating the landmark 21st and 18th birthdays of his two beloved daughters Claire and Jenny.

Instead, the teacher from Lowestoft has only memories to draw on as he, his wife and two other children continue to grieve over the girls' deaths in a road crash in July 2006.

THIS month, Phil Stoddart should have been celebrating the landmark 21st and 18th birthdays of his two beloved daughters Claire and Jenny.

Instead, the teacher from Lowestoft has only memories to draw on as he, his wife and two other children continue to grieve over the girls' deaths in a road crash in July 2006.

The process of dealing with the tragedy has been tough, but Mr Stoddart and his family have used their devout Christian faith to try to come to terms with the tragedy.

As part of this, Mr Stoddart released a book earlier this year in which he explained how religion had played a huge part in the process.

It has sold so well that it is now being rolled out for sale in new stores, including Jarrold's in Norwich, with hopes that it may break into the American market.

The book, called A12 to Heaven, tells how Mr Stoddart was spoken to by God as he paced the corridors of a hospital on the night of the tragedy.

Jenny and her older sister Claire were in a car with friends returning to Lowestoft from a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Ipswich when another car being driven by drink-driver Ben Morphey lost control and crashed into them on the A12 near Blythburgh.

The Stoddart sisters died along with their friend Carla Took and two people in the other car. Morphey, 24, of High Street, Yoxford, was later jailed for 8½ years, which was later cut by two years at appeal.

“Jenny was on a life-support machine and we knew in our hearts that she was gone. It was at that point God spoke to me,” said Mr Stoddart. “I was told there were three things I had to do and he was saying 'these are essential for your recovery'.”

These three instructions given to Mr Stoddart were not to blame God, not to blame himself and not to blame Morphey.

Mr Stoddart, who also gives talks about his experiences, added: “If you can hold on to these three things, you can get through it. If you can't, your life is consumed by bitterness. I don't blame myself, God or Ben Morphey.”

However, he added: “What people don't realise is that just because the story goes away, it doesn't mean your grief goes away. I still get bad dreams. A lot of my focus is still about dealing with what happened.”

Mr Stoddart's book had an initial print-run of 3,000 and 2,000 have been sold since the summer. It is now on sale at Jarrold's after enjoying a good response at Waterstone's in Lowes-toft and at Christian bookshops.

There have also been requests for the book from people in countries such as Holland, New Zealand, Australia and Cyprus, with the hope that it could go on sale in the USA,

A12 to Heaven is on sale at a number of bookshops, including Jarrold's in Norwich, priced £7.99.

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