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Inspiring work wins David an award

PUBLISHED: 20:03 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 14:34 14 July 2010

Inspiring - David and Jill Wright.

Inspiring - David and Jill Wright.

Their books have inspired millions of children around the globe.

Since first being published in 1987, young people have relied on Philip's Children's Atlas to find out about the countries of the world - and to pass those all important geography exams.

Their books have inspired millions of children around the globe.

Since first being published in 1987, young people have relied on Philip's Children's Atlas to find out about the countries of the world - and to pass those all important geography exams.

And now, David Wright, co-author of the atlas with his wife Jill, has been honoured with a prestigious Royal Geographical Society (RGS) award.

Mr Wright, 68, from Mulbarton, received the Ness Award 2008 for “the popularisation of geography among young people” at the society's AGM.

Former recipients of the award include Monty Python actor and writer Michael Palin and survival expert Ray Mears.

Mr Wright, who is battling liver cancer, said he was honoured to have been chosen as this year's recipient of the award.

He said: “It came as a complete surprise. I opened the post and there was yet another hospital appointment and then there was this letter saying I had won this award. I am very pleased, it is a real honour.”

Now in its 12th edition, the highly-acclaimed illustrated world atlas has sold over a million copies and is used by children all over the world.

The atlas has also won the Geographical Association's award for making a significant contribution to geography.

Yesterday, Mr Wright said at first he feared he would not be able to complete work on two new atlases for younger children because of his ill-health.

But he said he was delighted when his daughter Rachel Noonan offered to help with Philip's Early Years and Infant School atlases.

He said: “It is lovely because when my wife and I were doing the atlas our children were our expert advisors. Now my daughter is a co-author and our grandchildren are our expert advisors.”

Mr Wright said that while it was a tremendous honour to receive the award he wished his wife could also have been recognised.

He said he thought it was presented solely to him because he is a fellow of the RGS and his wife is not a member. “We are co-authors and I think it should have been a joint award,” he said.

The Wrights met as teacher trainers and have travelled all over the world researching educational books or gathering more information for their atlas.

The couple moved to Norfolk from London when Mr Wright took up a post at the Keswick Teacher Training College, which later became part of the University of East Anglia.

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