"I witness her pain and worry": Carol Vorderman"s best friend writes best-selling novel about life as an Army wife


'I witness her pain and worry': Carol Vorderman's best friend writes best-selling novel about life as an Army wife

An Army wife has turned the torment military families endure when their loved ones are fighting on foreign soil into a novel set to become a best-seller.

Amanda Prowse wanted to turn the crippling fear she feels every time her soldier husband goes away to war into a book to help other Army wives cope.

She had never written a novel before, but Poppy Day is so good it’s selling in huge numbers.

Poppy Day

Carol Vorderman, pictured at the Tidworth Garrison in Hampshire, is best friends with Amanda Prowse, right, who has written a debut novel about life with a husband on the front line

In a 26-year Army career, Amanda’s
husband Simeon, 44, has worked his way through the ranks from Private to
Major in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Amanda, who wears a poppy every day
of the year in honour of our armed forces, is a close friend of TV
presenter Carol Vorderman.

Carol said: 'The times when Simeon is deployed
in areas of violent conflict, and those times are frequent, are tough
for Mandy and the boys.

'I
witness her pain and worry, the anguish she has to bear, concerns that
most of us will never have to live through. Poppy Day is a brilliant
book, I couldn’t put it down.'

Simeon has survived 12 tours in war
zones including Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the MBE for
extreme bravery while serving in Sarajevo in 2000.

He
is due to return to Afghanistan once again within weeks, leaving Amanda
and their two sons Josh, 14, and Ben, aged 15, back at the family home
in Bristol.

Poppy Day

Simeon has survived 12 tours in war
zones including Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the MBE for
extreme bravery while serving in Sarajevo in 2000

Amanda, 43, said: 'The story is
fictitious, but the emotions are genuinely that of an Army wife who
lives through my worst nightmare.

'When
my man goes away, as he does frequently to areas of extreme danger and
fighting, I don’t really breathe properly until he gets home.

'During
the times he is deployed I simply tick off the days, just existing
until he walks safely through the door and back into my arms.

'If
I hear that an IED has exploded or that troops have been hurt, I wait
for the phrase “the next of kin have been informed” and I know then that
it’s not my turn, not today.

'I then feel a mixture of relief that it’s not my man and incredible sadness for the family who are suffering.

'If you’re not in a forces family it’s hard to understand what we go through when our husbands are away.

'I
don’t relax or sleep properly because my mind is always with him and
wondering whether he’s going to come back and how he’s going to come
back.

'I know the only
reason so many people get killed and injured is really just bad luck and
I know the reason my husband comes home safe and intact to me every
time is luck. I’m incredibly thankful when he does.'

Amanda Prowse

Poppy Day Cover_Paperback Edn_RBL_Hi Re

Giving back: Amanda is donating every penny raised from her novel to the Royal British Legion

Amanda’s book Poppy Day is a modern-day love story about Poppy, a young hairdresser from East London whose childhood sweetheart Martin decides to join the Army to give them a better life and ends up fighting the Taliban.

Chapter one begins with the moment every Army wife, husband, mother or father dreads – a knock on the front door from an officer bearing bad news.

'In my story Martin joined the Army at 19 because he wanted a regular income, a house, a car, he sees the Army as a way of achieving that, as do a lot of the boys who join the Army nowadays who come from fairly disadvantaged backgrounds,' said Amanda.

'I
don’t relax or sleep properly because my mind is always with him and
wondering whether he’s going to come back and how he’s going to come
back'

In the book Poppy is told the grim news that Martin has been taken hostage in the killing fields of Afghanistan and tells the nightmare ordeal she endures trying to ensure he is rescued.

'The Army can give you an amazing life, but I really wanted to show people what it’s like to be the one left at home,' said Amanda, who is donating every penny raised from her novel to the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back centre at Lilleshall, Shropshire, which will offer sports and adventure training for wounded veterans.

She added: 'All our armed forces, everyone that serves, does an amazing job on a daily basis, a job that most people wouldn’t want to do, a job most people couldn’t do.

'And I think most of them couldn’t do that job without the support network that they have at home and really they are the unsung heroes. Service wives and girlfriends are the rock that keeps things stable at home to enable soldiers to go and do the job they do with a clear mind.'

Amanda’s husband Simeon said: 'We’ve been staggered by the interest in the book, we’ve sold 2,000 copies that were stacked up in our garage in the last fortnight alone. Now an internet dating agency has just placed an order for 1,500 copies.

'And we’ve just heard the Army’s Chaplain General is going to direct all Army chaplains to promote the Poppy Day novel and will ask Army units to form book clubs to read it.'

The book is selling out in major stores like Waterstones and Sainsbury’s.

Waterstones
spokesman Jon Howells said: 'Poppy Day is doing so well that some of
our stores have already had to re-order more copies.'

Amanda’s
book is also picking up celebrity support with England rugby star Lewis
Moody and fashion guru Gok Wan praising it on their Twitter accounts.

Gok wrote to his half million followers: 'Great novel, let’s get it to number one people.'

Lewis wrote: 'Let’s support our troops. I’m supporting the Poppy Day novel.'