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Book Review : Inspire

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Inspire by author Oliver Chittenden

Reviewed by Kathryn Moss

The title says a lot about this book, it is indeed inspirational. Inspire tells twelve stories about twelve remarkable British people, all of whom have overcome great obstacles to achieve what they have to date. What drives them? Courage, dedication, a passionate belief in what they do, and in some cases not a small amount of risk-taking! Oliver Chittenden gives us a glimpse into the minds of these people through face to face interviews, insightful background information, and wonderful portrait photographs by Sam Pelly.

One of the things that make this book so fascinating is the variety of inspirational people included. They range from Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE (World’s greatest living explorer), to Tim Smit (Co-founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall), to Terry Waite CBE (former Beirut hostage), to Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE (eleven times Paralympic gold medallist), to name but a few! Each chapter is both fascinating and easy to read, giving the reader just the right amount of information to realise just how amazing these people are. There are plenty of words of wisdom from the individuals concerned, and I particularly like a quote from John Simpson CBE: “Perhaps the point of living is not to be placid and happy and untouched by the world, but to be deeply painfully sensitive to it, to see its cruelty and savagery for what they are, and accept all this as readily as we accept its beauty. To be touched by it, moved by it, hurt by it even, but not to be indifferent to it.” Another great snippet from Tim Smit: “The closer you get to the obstacle blocking your dream, the longer you hold your nerve, the sooner you will find an opening that makes your dream a reality.” The book is full of such inspiring gems, great to write on pieces of paper and stick on the walls around you when life is tough.

Another good touch is the inclusion of charities that are dear to the heart of the people involved in the book, and the fact that a proportion of the income generated from the sales of this book will go to the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a charity that aims to help people suffering from depression.

In addition to the twelve stories the book includes a foreword by Sir Richard Branson, and a tribute at the end to Jayne Tomlinson, whose incredible fight against cancer epitomises what the book is about. Inspire is the best kind of Coffee Table book, it looks good but once perused has the power to literally transform your day in a few moments. It would make a great gift at a time when there is a lot of despondency around, demonstrating as it does how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

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