Clare and Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo is one of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers. He was appointed Children’s Laureate in May 2003, a post he helped to set up with his friend Ted Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007. He has written over 130 books with world sales over over 34 million copies, many of which have been adapted for stage, including Private Peaceful, Kensuke’s Kingdom, I Believe in Unicorns and The Mozart Question, and most notably, the National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of War Horse. The film of War Horse by Steven Spielberg was released in January 2012. Clare was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, Exeter University and is a qualified Montessori teacher. She is the daughter of Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books. In 1976 with her husband Michael, and with money left to her by her father, they began the educational charity Farms for City Children with the intention of enriching the lives of disadvantaged urban children with an intense and rewarding experience of the countryside. Clare and Michael wanted the children to share in the daily routine of a family farm; going out in all weathers to care for the animals, helping with the milking, collecting the eggs, feeding the pigs, experiencing everything that they could do safely, all under the careful guidance of professional farmers and their own teachers. Poets Ted Hughes and Sean Rafferty were keen supporters of the project. Forty years later there are now three farms, welcoming over a thousand children a year from towns and cities all over the UK. Teachers frequently say that a child can learn more in a week on the farm than in a year in the classroom. In 1999 Clare and Michael were awarded MBE’s for services to youth.