AN artist has realised her dream of becoming a children’s book illustrator thanks to a project that encourages depressed young people to share their problems.

Rosie Philpott, from Droitwich, said she “loved every aspect” of bringing the story to life, working alongside author Richard Bland whose son took his own life six years ago, aged 31.

Wing Commander Bear, which is intended as the first in a series, follows teddy bear Andrew Bland, or ‘AB’ – named after Richard’s son – a mascot of RAF Valley in Holyhead who travels around the world on fighter jets.

Richard, of Meir Park, Staffordshire, was left heartbroken after his son died, having shown no sign of any personal struggle, leaving his family unaware of any issues.

The book aims to raise money for The Dove Service, a Hanley-based bereavement support and counselling charity.

“The book is all about a bear adopted by the RAF which has flown all over the world – he’s even been on a trip with Prince William,” said Richard.

“Because the bear was a mascot, he has an official logbook. It shows that he’s flown all over the world to places like Las Vegas, and at one point, he even got shot down.”

After his son’s suicide Richard and his family spoke to The Dove Service in the hope of teaching young people about the importance of talking to their parents about mental health.

“I think it could have been a completely different story for Andrew had he actually spoken to us,” he said.

“If getting this book published stops another family going through what we did then it has been a success.”

Rosie said: “I have been in touch with Richard throughout the process and received feedback from pilots who have recognised themselves in my work.

“To know that it is for such a good cause has made It even more worthwhile and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for AB,” she added.

The book will be launched on August 12 and it is hoped that schools will take interest and put it in their classrooms.

Rosie is hoping to sell some signed copies to customers who are interested, but they are also available through Amazon, WHSmith and Waterstones.

If you feel you may want to take you own life or are concerned about someone else, talk to the Samaritans for free on 116123 or contact your GP.