THE events of her son’s days as an apprentice farrier prompted Catherine Robinson to put pen to paper.

Her son, Joe, was 16 while training around Shipley and beyond. Tending all manner of steeds from racehorses to ponies kept on allotments he would often regale his mum with his humorous tales and tribulations.

Unbeknown to Joe, Catherine secretly kept jottings of his exploits and some years later she decided to pursue an ambition she believes many English teachers harbour - to write a book.

‘Forging On,’ published by Orion in 2017, is described as a ‘comic novel’ about an apprentice farrier’s first year of training in Yorkshire.

Having spent her life around horses, and having her own, it was inevitable that Joe - now 33 - would inherit his mum’s animal passion.

She fondly recalls him being ‘plonked’ on a Shetland pony from the moment he could sit up. Mother and son enjoyed regular ride-outs together.

“I kept horses all my life and he says he can never remember learning to ride -the only way was to sit him on a pony and get him to come with me as soon as he could sit up.

“That is how he was brought up - he got a taste for the outdoors,” explains Catherine, who also kept a flock of Derbyshire Gritstone sheep at that time too.

So for Joe, working with animals combined a pleasurable pastime with a profession.

After studying at agricultural college, Joe secured an apprenticeship on a farrier course and spent nearly six years training.

“He would come home with some of these stories when he was 16 and he was talking through his experiences of the day. We ended up having a good laugh about them,” says Catherine.

“He kept coming back with these tales and I would jot them down. By the time he had finished I had a notebook of little stories.”

Catherine was convinced if she could connect the stories up she could turn them into a book - so she did...

“He (Joe) has a good way of telling a tale so that was helpful,” she says.

Working part-time - she spent 38 years teaching English at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, where she lives - gave Catherine the opportunity to write.

* ‘Forging On’ received five star reviews on Amazon when it initially launched - now it has earned her a nomination for a national writing award.

* ‘Comedy Women in Print’ is the brain-child of award-winning comedian, Helen Lederer to celebrate and support female comedy writers.

* ‘Forging On’ is one of 12 novels chosen for the award from many submissions. Other nominees include best-selling novelists along with debut witty writers and rising stars.

* All the books shortlisted are recognised and linked for their humour.

Says Catherine: “What is very humbling is some of those writers who are nominated are people I really admire and it is really gratifying.”

After spending 10 years in Ilkley Joe now runs his own farrier business near Preston and has his own apprentice.

According to Catherine he supports her writing and is always on hand if she needs to check some of the technical facts. Now she is looking forward to finishing her second book - and the ‘Comedy Women in Print’ awards to be held on July 10.

Catherine is speaking on the art of turning fact in to fiction at the Stonyhurst Literature and Film Festival running from August 16 to 17 at Stonyhurst College.

Future plans include finishing her second book and taking part in the Stonyhurst Literature and Film Festival running from August 16 to 17 hosted on the Stonyhurst College campus outside Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley.

Catherine’s talk focuses on the art of turning fact into fiction. The College has many links to literary and film icons including Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To find out more about the film festival visit Copies of the book 'Forging on' are available at