A book about tortoises by Sidmouth author Jenny Fensom has raised more than £1,200 for the local hospice charity – and been praised by the former Speaker of the House of Commons.

Jenny Fenson has been selling copies of her book Dandelion Days to raise funds for Sidmouth Hospice at Home. She also sent a copy to the former Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, after hearing that he has a pet Sulcata Giant tortoise called Maggie.

Jenny told the Herald: “It was some weeks before I had an acknowledgement, until a fortnight ago I had a telephone message from his private secretary saying how Sir Lindsay had been very amused and delighted in reading Dandelion Days and would like to write and thank me for sending a copy.

“I duly received a charming letter from his wife Catherine Hoyle writing on behalf of Sir Lindsay and herself.”

Jenny held a garden party at her home on Saturday, June 29 to thank those who had supported her by buying copies of Dandelion Days. She was still just short of her fundraising target of £1,000 when a surprise donation tipped the balance.

She said: “Prior to the garden party I received a telephone call from a lady resident in Sidmouth who had just purchased a copy of Dandelion Days from Paragon Books. She did not want her name mentioned but said it would be nice to dedicate the cheque to the memory of her two much loved pet tortoises from some years ago, Oswald and Irwin.

“To my huge delight the cheque was for £200, the kind lady wanted to help reach my target of £1,000 for the sale of the 100 books printed.”

More than 30 guests attended the garden party, including Sidmouth Hospice at Home’s fundraising manager Sharon Coombes and two specialist palliative care nurses, Beverley Anderson and Dawn Sandiford.

Jenny said: “They showed great interest and amusement when two of my own tortoises allowed themselves to be handled and fussed.

“Sharon suggested that we wait for some more books hopefully to be sold to new summer visitors who own tortoises during the coming weeks, before accepting the final cheque for Sidmouth Hospice at Home.

“It has been wonderful to have the support of the community and to see enthusiasm for the topic of tortoises. The publication has reached far and wide, way beyond Devon, and has been highly praised along the way, so I am delighted, especially for the charity.”

Limited numbers of Dandelion Days are still available via local Sidmouth stockists Paragon Books, Sidmouth Post Office and Fitzalan Gems, priced at £10. The book can also be ordered directly from jennyfensomfoxdale@hotmail.co.uk, phone 01395 576825.