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Wallan friends launch heart-warming children’s book

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Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis has worked as a journalist at the North Central Review since 2022, with a particular focus on the City of Whittlesea and stories for the Whittlesea Review. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communications majoring in journalism and focuses on politics, community, and health with the occasional niche sports story finding its way in front of her.

A children’s book that helps understand the power of affirmation was launched on October 1.

Authors Benjamin Gregory, founder of entertainment company BGGROUPAU, and musical artist Amber Sindoni, also known as Ambraya, launched the book ‘Safe, Happy and Healthy’ at Tambo Farm in Darraweit Guim.

They were joined by family and friends who supported and invested in the book through its GoFundMe page.  

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At the launch, the two friends read the book that tells the story of Billy – a boy who developed an anxiety disorder, following the passing of his mother, and uncovers the power of affirmation to begin his healing journey.

The book was written in memory of Mr Gregory’s mother who died in 2020.

Mr Gregory said the book was originally written as a thank-you to his mother for everything she had taught him.

But the authors then decided to share her legacy and teachings by releasing it to the general public.

“Writing a book, it changes as you change and as you grow as a person, that was the beauty about this – the fact that as we progressed and as we grew and I understood what grief was, so did the people around me and Amber and then the story changed,” he said.

Three and a half years in the making, Mr Gregory said working with his friend Ms Sindoni, who dedicated the book to her late grandfather and performed her debut single at the launch, was ‘really special.’

“She was a really beautiful support for me when I lost my mum and being an incredible friend, we both balance each other out from all sides – the creative, professional and corporate,” he said.

Inside the 33-page book is colourful and empowering illustrations by Mitchell Shire resident Cassie Fleming, who Mr Gregory said ‘well exceeded’ their expectations. 

“She was incredible. We gave her a brief on what Billy needed to look like … she took the story on, she became part of the family and we’re really grateful for the work that she’s done,” he said.

After launching the book in time for Mr Gregory’s late mother’s birthday last month, the authors signed copies in front of Wallan Giftware, at Wellington Square Shopping Centre, on November 12.

Aiming to roll out the book at bookstores and retailers, Mr Gregory said stocking the book at Wallan Giftware, owned by his friend Lauren Fanelli, was a ‘nice step’ for the book’s direction.

Safe, Happy and Healthy authors Benjamin Gregory, left, and Amber Sindoni with Lauren Fanelli, owner of Wallan Giftware where the book will be stocked. ​

Mr Gregory said people could expect to find him and Ms Sindoni at different events, markets, stores, and schools across the Mitchell Shire and metropolitan Melbourne over the next 12 months.

To purchase and find more information on the book, visit www.safehappyandhealthybook.com.

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