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An interview with Millie Marotta



'Wild Savannah': Millie Marotta's brand new colouring book

‘Wild Savannah’: Millie Marotta’s brand new colouring book

PIONEER for the adult colouring book craze Millie Marotta spoke with The Herald last week (Feb 17), a few days after she released her latest collection, ‘Wild Savannah’.

Millie Marotta is the UK’s best-selling non-fiction author of 2015, the NY Times Bestselling author and her book, ‘Animal Kingdom’, spent a record 20 weeks as the official paperback non-fiction number one on Amazon.

On February 11, the Pembrokeshire-based artist released her third book, ‘Wild Savannah’, which offers beautiful and intricate illustrations of the Savannah grass lands. The colouring book is already being flagged as one of the biggest releases of 2016.

Speaking with Millie last week, she said that she has adored art for as long as she can remember and that she has always gravitated towards creative activities.

After studying Art and Design in school, she went on to do a degree in Wildlife Illustration and then became a teacher at Bush School, where she taught for a number of years.

In 2008, when the economy was taking a down turn, Millie decided to take the plunge and leave her stable, well paid job to become a freelance illustrator.

“I was really scared,” she told us, “People were like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you a bit mad?’ but I felt like it was the right time.

“I always carried on with my own projects outside of my job and my desire grew and grew. Teaching over time and nurturing other people’s creativity made me miss being more creative myself.

“My plan was to do freelance illustration and I had to make it work. I was deadly serious about it – I made sure it was going to work. It was really scary and it was a bold move, but it worked out.”

Millie Marotta-95

Millie Marotta: “Colouring is an easy way to be creative.”

We asked Millie whether she planned to create colouring books from the beginning, or if her art style paved the way for her.

Before creating her colouring books, Millie worked on a variety of different projects; textiles, food packaging, book illustrations, editorial… The list goes on.

Millie told us that her publisher’s had seen her work a year before they got in contact with her. The publisher’s had bought a screen print of the artist’s work to give to a colleague who was leaving their office.

A year later, they contacted Millie proposing the idea for an adult colouring book because her style of art seemed perfect for the craze.

“We met for a chat first of all and it seemed like a great idea – it made sense. I took in some drawings, which I thought would be good for the book and we had similar ideas.

“It all happened so quickly. I came away from the meeting and started drawing for my first colouring book the next day.”

We asked Millie whether she plans her books before starting. She replied: “I plan quite meticulously; I don’t make it up on the spot.

“My books are planned really well so that there is plenty of diversity. There are lots of different types of drawings; when you’re drawing in excess of 80 pieces, it’s important to think abou it carefully so that the whole book is beautiful and engaging.”

Millie told us that she is not one to wander around and she works best when she is in her studio. As her work is so meticulous and accurate, the artist likes to work at home in her usual, relaxed environment, at a desk surrounded by materials she loves to work with.

She draws every day, whether she is planning pieces as little thumbnails or creating a very accurate and precise final piece. Drawing is the largest portion of Millie’s day.

All of Millie’s work is nature based, and the natural world is what inspires her. She said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the natural world, it’s an inherent thing and it seems obvious for me to focus on it. I don’t have to think about it.”

Fellow artists who create nature-based pieces are the people who inspire Millie most. The artist loves Charlie Harper’s flat, clean stylised graphics and the intricate and scientific work of Ernst Haeckel. Millie went on to talk about Pembrokeshire artist John Knapp Fisher, whose monochrome style has always been an inspiration to her.

“Why do you think adult colouring books have become so popular?” we asked.

“Overall, it’s down to the fact that we all lead such busy lives. We cram so much into a day and there comes a time when we need to shut out the outside world.

“People need a simple and accessible way to be calm – to concentrate one thing instead of 100.

“Colouring is something we’ve all done as children, so it isn’t a new hobby, it’s inherent in all of us. There’s an element of nostalgia and familiarity.

“We kind of leave colouring behind – as children we love to be creative, but life takes over and we don’t allow ourselves time to engage in creative activities. Colouring is an easy way to be creative.”

We asked Millie what advise she would give to anyone thinking of pursuing a career in art. She told us that the most important thing is to take time to develop your own style.

“The illustration world is a busy market and it’s easy to look at other people and try to work like them.

“It’s important to do what comes naturally to you because your work is then honest and genuine. This makes you stand out and you will produce better work.”

Millie is already working on book number four, which will be released later this year, and is about to release a homeware range, which she tells us is “new and exciting” for her.

The artist is incredibly busy, but she’s happy to be – she tells us she would be doing this much even if she did not have deadlines to meet.

Millie has also recently become a patron for the Born Free Foundation, a charity whose aim is to keep wildlife in the wild. Funding for the charity goes towards stopping the suffering of wild animals and protecting threatened species in the wild.

By selling a limited edition print of the lion piece in Millie’s new ‘Wild Savannah’ book, the artist will help to raise money for the charity, and raise awareness while doing so. The print will be sold exclusively on the Born Free Foundation’s website.

Millie told us that she cannot wait to do more work with the charity in the future.

You can now buy Millie’s latest book, ‘Wild Savannah’ in most good book stores and online, and we at The Herald suggest you do that right away.




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Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire



MILFORD HAVEN’S Torch Theatre is launching ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’, an exciting new community project that aims to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit.

We all love a good story, but they are especially good if they throw light on the place that we are from. The Pembrokeshire Story is trying to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.

The inspiration behind the project originated from the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran, who, whilst caring for his father who was suffering with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020, encouraged his father to elaborate on stories which previously he had only touched on in passing.

Peter said: “My father told us of his time as an evacuee, having been sent from his home in Liverpool to the Welsh speaking village of Llamberis in North Wales. It was a fascinating tale and one that we might never have heard about had it not been for Covid-19. We’re all so busy, I feel we just don’t spend enough time with each other to allow these wonderful moments to happen, we’re all so busy it would seem.”

Peter’s father has thankfully gone on to make a full recovery from Covid-19 and is continuing to tell many more stories.

The Pembrokeshire Story is being led by Tenby based creative James Williams, who has assembled a team of freelance artists to capture extraordinary stories in different mediums from across the county. These stories are only part of the project and the Torch Theatre requires your help to capture your stories told across the generations.

James added: “Local artists have already been working to gather stories from over the county, and now we’d like to ask you to join in. We are putting out a call for videos made by young people where they interview their grandparents or older relatives about their experiences and stories of Pembrokeshire. These videos will be added to an online Living Archive which will be available for anyone to access.”

All the stories submitted will be added to the Living Archive on the Pembrokeshire Story website which will be launched in April. Videos can be made on a phone or recorded from a digital platform call (ideally filmed in landscape), they can be in English or in Welsh but must be no longer than 5 minutes.

If you would prefer not to film your submission, we would be happy to receive your story as an audio recording (mp3 format) or in writing, with an accompanying photograph.

For more information visit

If you would like to submit a story, please contact James Williams via this email address

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NHS worker from Pembroke Dock raises over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge



An NHS worker from Pembroke Dock has raised over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge with her husband Edd, having been inspired by the support their young niece received as a baby at Glangwili Hospital Special Care Baby Unit.

Donna Reed works in the Communications Team at Hywel Dda University Health Board and wanted to do her bit to say thanks to everyone who nursed Layla and supported the family for several weeks when she arrived very early in 2012.

Donna says, “Born at just 3lbs, Layla is now a beautiful, bubbly and full of beans eight-year-old. As a family we’d like to give something back to the staff who cared for Layla when she was so tiny.”

Donna and Edd raised over £1,000 on a JustGiving page and a donation of £500 was made by Edd’s employer, Valero Energy Ltd, where he works as a Process Operator.

Karen Jones, a Senior Nurse thanked the couple for their efforts. She said, “We really appreciate what Donna and Edd have done to support us. Donations like this are used to purchase items for parents and babies in order for their stay to be more comfortable and to help make the stay less stressful – items such as parent pamper packs, items for the parent’s sitting room and overnight room baby’s journal, items to support breast feeding and items to support premature babies development. They are also used to support specialist neonatal training for staff and purchase specialist neonatal equipment.”

Donna and Edd are planning a series of physical challenges through the year. Donna adds, “A year on since I started fundraising for Glangwili Hospital’s SCBU, and after all but one of my events last year were postponed, I decided to take on a very unique challenge to raise another £100 to get to my target.

“I ran the Narberth Nobbler’s 4 x 4 x 48 challenge between March 5-7. The event involved me and Edd running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, a total of 48 miles over the weekend. This is an incredibly tough endurance event that will test our stamina, perseverance and mettle.”
Layla’s mother Rebeca said, “As Layla was born prematurely it was a very worrying time, however we knew she was in the best hands in SBCU as they built her up to a healthy weight and did everything they could to reassure us as parents.

“We are so grateful for the care and support that staff gave to Layla and to our family, and to my sister and Edd for raising money for the unit.”
Donna also plans to take part in Broad Haven Triathlon, Cardiff Half Marathon and Snowdon Marathon Eryri, providing they go ahead.
Donna would like to thank everyone who’s supported her fundraising so far and is encouraging people to donate if they can, “Any amount, no matter how small, will help make a difference and 100% of funds raised will go towards helping babies like Layla and their families,” she says.

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Great Western Railway and the Fishguard Ocean Port – How WWI dashed ambitious plans for Fishguard



by Doug Evans

ALTHOUGH Fishguard Port is best known now for its easy route to Ireland, it was once part of an ambitious plan to take trans-Atlantic passengers away from the likes of Plymouth and Southampton.

In 1889, the Great Western Railway rook over the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway, and in preparation of turning Fishguard into a purpose-built ocean liner port, the GWR opened its first station, Fishguard & Goodwick railway station, in 1899 while work on the new port began with the construction of Fishguard Harbour’s East breakwater.

The overlooking village of Harbour Village was built to accommodate workers and the necessary 27 acres site and 900 metre breakwater were provided by blasting 1.6 million tonnes of rock from the cliff face.

A new line would connect the proposed liner terminal on the East Breakwater to the West Wales line. The new 2 mile route, which would have bypassed the steeper gradients and curves on this part of the original line, would have included a deep cutting, embankments and two tunnels.

However, the project to build a breakwater and an ocean-going terminal was abandoned after it became clear silting (which could not be prevented by dredging) would stop large ocean-going ships from using the port.

Local legend has it that the engineer responsible for this mistake committed suicide after realising the port was not suitable for its intended purpose. Another local myth suggests that the breakwater was deliberately built this way as locals didn’t want the harbour to become too large.

The East Breakwater was left unfinished. Two short sections of the planned railway to the new port terminal were completed before the project was ended.

In 1906, Fishguard and West Wales was visited by the largest ship in the world at the time the RMS Mauretania.

Fishguard Harbour, from above

An archived pamphlet for the Fishguard Port from 1913 provides a fascinating insight into the journey from America to London at the time.

It reads: “Fishguard is situated on the south-west coast of Wales, and is the nearest British port to New York used by Atlantic liners. It affords the quickest means of reaching London, and is also a convenient port for the Continent.

“In addition, many parts of England and Wales are within easy access of Fishguard; the Metropolis is 262 miles away and this distance is covered in under five hours.

“Tickets for seats in the special train from Fishguard to London will be furnished to Saloon passengers holding railway coupons. Passengers who do not hold coupons can purchase same at Purser’s Office before leaving the steamer.

“Single tickets and outward halves of return tickets between Fishguard and London are available for three months if purchased in America, or if issued in exchange for vouchers obtained in America. In other circumstances they are available for ten days.

“The baggage of London-bound passengers is ready labeled, “London, via Fishguard,” the lettering being white on a purple ground, the bold lettering and the distinctive coloring precluding the possibility of confusion.

“The route from Fishguard to London, passing through the industrial centres in South Wales and the charming scenes of the Thames valley, is full of interest.

“The speed at which the run is covered is the most potent tribute to the excellence of the Great Western’s iron road and their rolling stock.  Only one stop is made, and this of a very short duration, at Cardiff.

“Between the Fishguard of today and that of even a decade ago there is a great difference. A bay which boasted but of a departing or rather departed fishing industry, and was visited by only a few coastwise traders and fishing craft seeking shelter, has been converted into a splendid harbour, a harbour in which great natural advantages have been ably supplemented by the works which the Great Western Railway Company have constructed.

“At the quay by the railway station the splendid fleet of turbine steamers running between Fishguard and Rosslare (Ireland) are berthed, and here are the most modern appliances for the speedy transfer from ship to train, or vice versa, of goods and baggage.”

Although the ambitious plans for Fishguard were not to be, the Port continues to this day, providing crossings to Rosslare with the Superferry Stena Europe providing two daily crossings all year round.

Transport for Wales operate from Fishguard Harbour and have special trains to connect with the arrival and departures of the Stena Line Superferry Stena Europe that operates to/from Rosslare.

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