Coventry City of Culture 2021
An 11-year-old boy meets an army of ghosts in the War Memorial Park, and together they battle a businessman intent on destroying the park for profit.
11-year-old Robert Salmon’s latest obsession is cataloguing the remembrance plaques in the War Memorial Park. His dad, Andrew Salmon, was seriously wounded while trying to defuse an IED in Afghanistan, and is in hospital in Coventry. Although very bright, Robert has autism and has several other obsessions, including the weather. His punky sister, Faye (15), loves his unique personality, and she’s one of a kind too.
At the Remembrance Day service in the park on 11th November 2011, Robert meets Delphine (11), evacuated from London during the Second World War to stay with her Aunt in Coventry. Unfortunately, Delphine was killed in a freak accident in the park when the cable of a Barrage Balloon snapped and whipped her hundreds of feet into the air. Now in spirit form, she leads a troop of War Ghosts in their mission to protect the Memorial Park.
Delphine and her phantom platoon discover that local businessman, Guy Potter-Wood, is intent on claiming the parkland back in order to profit from commercial property development. To do this he must prove to the City Council that visitor numbers to the park are so low that it is not economically viable for the Council to continue to run it as a leisure facility.
Guy also has political aspirations and is bent on securing the heart of Robert’s mum, Jo, so that he can present the perfect family photo in his public life. When Andrew Salmon dies, it seems Guy will get his girl, and the land.
But our hero, Robert, has other ideas. With the help of Delphine and her troop of ghostly comrades, he plans to bring hundreds of people into the park on a snowy New Year’s Day to prevent the takeover.
Although no snow is expected, Robert, Delphine and the spirits in the park, set about creating a change in the weather, with the help of a ghostly Spitfire – retaining the War Memorial Park for the people of Coventry.
Writer Robert Wilkinson explains more about two of the main characters from the story.
ROBERT SALMON (11) – Good looking dark-haired lad. Small for his age. He has autism and is in year 7 at his new school, Longland Park. Lives with his Mum, Jo, and sister Faye, in the leafy suburb of Earlsdon, Coventry, near the War Memorial Park. Robert has been cataloguing the memorials in the park since the family moved to the area in the summer. He has a map and has created a database to log all the names and details of deceased soldiers. He is also obsessed with anything “Coventry”…and the weather. He’s caring, a bit of a loner, precise about everything and speaks as he finds.
FAYE SALMON (14) – Sister to Robert, punky skateboarder. She presents a feisty front but is vulnerable. She looks out for her younger brother, even though most of the time she thinks he’s a pain. A brilliant guitarist, she sings well too. She is deeply saddened about her dad’s imminent death and worries how her mum will cope. Faye doesn’t like Guy and is aware of her mum’s previous closeness with him
DELPHINE TANNER (11, Ghost) The spirit of a girl, a lost soul, who was evacuated from London to stay with her Aunt Winifred Darby in Coventry during the Second World War. Delphine tragically fell to her death in the park when the cable of a Barrage Balloon snapped and whipped her hundreds of feet in the air. She is intelligent and kind but stands up for herself and those she loves. She is a born leader. She loved her mum and dad and does not know what became of them.
WALLY WRIGHT (55, Ghost) Sergeant. Bugler, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Killed in action during WW1 while sounding the retreat. Trapped and killed by one of his own shells.
BILL EVANS (26, Ghost) Stoker 1st Class HMS BULWARK, Royal Navy – died 26 November 1914.
BERYL ELLEN MANNING – (31, Ghost) Civilian killed during the blitz of Coventry on 14 November 1940.
THOMAS EDWARD DARBY (35, Ghost) Leading Fireman AFS. Killed 11th April 1941 whilst rescuing a mother and child from a collapsed building.
CUTHBERT BUNCLARKE (17, Ghost) Pvt Royal Warwickshire Regiment.. Killed 30 August 1917.
ROBERT KENNING (17, Ghost) Bombardier Anti Tank Regt, Royal Artillery, Killed 5th September 1944
JO SALMON – nè Watts (45, Mum). A qualified Midwife/ Nurse, Jo works hard for her kids. She moved the family back to Coventry in the summer from their home at Vauxhall Barracks, Didcot, Oxfordshire, because her husband, Andrew Salmon, was seriously wounded disposing of an IED in Afghanistan and is not expected to live. Jo has accepted a small terraced house, in Earlsdon, from Guy for a peppercorn rent, while she tries to get a grip on the grief of losing Andrew, a financial mess, and bringing up two children on her own. Although she appreciates Guy’s help, she is not comfortable knowing that he still has feelings for her, and she is trying to keep him at a distance.
ANDREW SALMON (45, Dad). Sergeant in 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, specialist regiment of the British Army's Royal Logistic Corps (RLC), responsible for counter-terrorist Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Andrew had been on a tour of Afghanistan when he was seriously wounded when trying to dispose of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). He met Jo in sixth form and they became very close, but the relationship fizzled out when he joined the army and Jo went to Uni to study nursing and midwifery. Andrew met up with Jo at a school reunion; they started to see each other and eventually married. They made their home in Coventry initially and then in various army barracks.
GUY POTTER-WOOD (45) - a businessman who sees himself as a local celeb. He is from an extremely wealthy Coventry family who made their money during the Victorian reign from silk and weaving. His title is “Lord of Styvechale Manor”, and it was his family who sold the land to the City Council back in 1920 to create the War Memorial Park. He is shallow, loves himself, but he is a bit of an actor, and can be self effacing to get what he wants. He is tall, dark and handsome, well connected and equally well spoken and has great presence. He became friends with Andrew and Jo in sixth form years when his family sponsored a food kitchen they had set up in the City Centre. He ended up going to the same university as Jo and although they never became a couple, they were close. He owns over a hundred houses in the city and is a land and property developer. He is intent on bringing the park back into the ownership of his family, by any means necessary. He also wants Jo back in his life to help present him as a picture-perfect politician.
THE TRIPLE A GANG
AJAY KAPOOR (12) Big for his age. Self-proclaimed founder and leader of the Triple A Gang. Lives in a nice part of town. He’s quite bright but intimidated by those more intelligent than him, so Robert will always be in Ajay’s sights. Spoilt by his parents, and always gets his own way because he and his mum nearly died when she was giving birth to him.
ALEX FREEMAN (11) Skinny, lacks confidence. Went to junior school with Ajay because they live next door to each other. Now he’s coerced into walking to school with Ajay, and happy to be part of Ajay’s ‘gang’. Will do whatever Ajay wants him to do.
ATIQ ASHKANI (11) - cousin of Ajay. Atiq’s mother is terminally ill after suffering a brain haemorrhage and he is lost. Doesn’t really like the way Ajay treats people