GROWING up, I always loved the children’s books of Robert Westall.

He specialised in tales about children during the Second World War and creepy ghost stories.

He won the prestigious Carnegie Medal twice – the first author to do so – and, pertinently for this column, he lived at Lymm.

I’ve written a lot about Westall previously.

But this great, often overlooked children’s author, is always worth talking about and, above all, reading.

Originally from the north east, Westall was an art teacher who taught at Sir John Deane’s Grammar School at Northwich (one of his pupils was Lymm crime writer Martin Edwards, more of which next week).

He died in 1993 at the age of 63.

He was at the height of his creative powers, but he left a wonderful legacy of storytelling.

A number of years ago I went to interview Lindy McKinnel, with whom Westall spent the last six years of his life.

She was one of the earliest readers of his work and the person who encouraged him to send off his first book, The Machine Gunners, to a publisher.

I went to speak to her at the home he shared with her for the last six years of his life.

It was here that he wrote at the kitchen table – one of his beloved clocks (he was a keen antiques and clock collector) was still on the wall over that table.

Without her, he would not have seen this marvellous story published nor would he have won the Carnegie Medal. So we owe her a debt of gratitude.

At that time he was married to his wife, Jean, and they had a son, Christopher, who was to provide that initial inspiration for his breakthrough as a writer.

It was for Chris that he wrote The Machine Gunners, based on his memories of growing up in the north east during the Second World War.

Once he became successful, Westall suffered a series of tragedies. Chris was killed aged 18 in a motorbike accident and a few years later Jean took her own life.

Westall in time moved into family friend Lindy McKinnel’s Lymm home on Woodlands Avenue.

With his royalties he was able to buy a cottage two minutes from that house where he would go to write his books.

His death in 1993 was a shock and unexpected.

His ashes were buried in the same grave at Northwich as his wife and son.

If you have never read any of his exquisite stories, make sure you do so. I can heartily recommend The Machine Gunners, The Scarecrows, The Kingdom by the Sea and his adult ghost story collection Antique Dust.

A great writer.