Meet children’s author Malcolm Campbell, a Scottish Rotarian who is affectionately known as ‘Malcolm the Weaver’ – a nickname given to him by the Queen!
“It was March 2010 and I was invited to a reception for the British Design Industry at Buckingham Palace”, explained Malcolm, who is a member of Harrogate Rotary in Yorkshire.
He initially joined Rotary in 1983 while working for the Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Langholm, where he was a member of Langholm Rotary.
“It was a grand affair, with the likes of John Rocha, Paul Costelloe, the Emanuels, and Zandra Rhodes in attendance, as well as models Sophie Dahl and Twiggy, and me, as a designer of cloth for fashion designers.
“I was introduced to Her Majesty the Queen as Mr Campbell from Holland & Sherry, the global cloth merchant that I worked for at the time.
“I said ‘Good evening Ma’am, my name is Malcolm, I am a Scottish weaver’. Her Majesty turned to The Duke of Edinburgh and said: ‘This is Malcolm the Weaver’. Later that evening, she talked to me about Queen Victoria, and her love of Harris Tweeds and Tartan.”
And so the nickname was born for Malcolm, who was born in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland, started his working life in the textile industry, and now is the author of children’s education books.
The lightbulb moment occurred when Malcolm was invited by BBC Scotland to visit the Isle of Lewis with his six-year-old twins Aidan and Zoe, to film a CBeebies children’s programme on Harris Tweed weaving.
While filming, Malcolm’s children badgered him with questions about textiles and nature. That’s when he struck on the idea of writing books about colour, craft, nature, the environment and sustainability for four to eight-year-olds.
The result is a trilogy of books written by Malcolm, and illustrated by his daughter, Sharon, who is living in New Zealand.
The first book, ‘Weaver of a Life in Colour’, was published in 2014 and teaches children about the wonders of nature and the emotion of colour.
‘The Rainbow that Mixed Colours’ and ‘The Moon that Shone Dark’, is a flip book published in 2015 with two environmental stories, teaching the dangers of contaminating our planet.
The books are all printed in a font, which makes them much easier to read for children with dyslexia.”
And the third in the series, ‘The Tide that Stayed Out’ and ‘The Wind that Never Blew’, published in 2018, explains the ebbing and flowing cycle of the seas, along with the magnetism of the Moon.
“The combination of all stories influences children to care for our planet,” explained Malcolm, himself a father of seven, with five grandchildren.
“The books are all printed in ‘open dyslexic’ font, which makes them much easier to read for children with dyslexia.
“The titles and stories are aimed at encouraging children to appreciate the magic of the fundamentals of life, to enjoy colour, craft, nature, the environment and sustainability. To kindle a fascination and a passion for the diversity of life on earth.”
Malcolm added: “The idea behind the books is to teach children to see the magic in the fundamentals of life, and to enjoy the happiness of living.
“I want to encourage children to spend less time on their mobile phones, TV and computers, and instead to understand and appreciate the natural world around them.
“The books are learning books which teach some of the magic events in life, which are often taken for granted by adults. They also encourage children to read, rather than simply to look at pictures and images.”
Malcolm works with a Bradford-based educational charity, the Society of Dyers and Colourists who distribute the books to primary schools.
The books are learning books which teach some of the magic events in life, which are often taken for granted by adults.”
And the reaction to the books has been exceptional, with endorsements from children, teachers and schools.
Malcolm isn’t going to threaten JK Rowling in the children’s book charts, much of the last four years has been to establish the project in primary schools. It is funded by his own finances and his consultancy business, Retail & Textile Co.
There are now plans for an animation series with BBC ALBA, called ‘A Grey Day’, as well as a school play and a theatre play based on the concept of the Malcolm the Weaver books.
“Our primary focus is to have the trilogy of books in every primary school in the UK, all 22,000 of them,” added Malcolm.