A BOOK written more than 30 years ago has at last been published thanks to the determination of the author's relatives and a little help from people in the community.

'Hillesley A Backward Glance' was written in 1974 by David Chappell. It was a labour of love for the author who, for the enjoyment of others, penned his childhood memories of a rural life pre-First World War.

David was born in Hillesley in 1903 to a farming family. His father owned New Mills Farm along with the butchers in the village and he was raised to follow in his father's footsteps. He eventually owned his own farm at Rushmire, North Nibley, before inheriting New Mills when his father died.

A committed Christian, David spent every Sunday visiting Hillesley's Baptist Chapel, something he still did even after his move to North Nibley.

When the book was first written in 1974, it was hand typed and bound simply with a plastic spine, but nevertheless it proved very popular. However, the copies ran out 30 years later.

His niece Trish Mills, of Cam, found out from her cousin Caroline Webber earlier this year that no more copies were available, but that there was still demand for them.

She said: "I used to work in publishing so offered to type the book. I'd never read it before but when I did I realised straight away that more should be done then just re-typing."

Despite approaching a number of companies, Ms Mills and her cousin decided to self-publish.

To illustrate the book, the pair wrote to the Gazette asking for local people to send in any old photographs they had of Hillesley.

Ms Mills said: "We were overwhelmed by the response. We had 120 in the end and we used more than 60 in the book.

"What was wonderful was that so many of them were of things and people my uncle had mentioned in the book.

"We are so grateful to all the lovely people who responded to the letter in the paper and let us borrow their photographs."

Sadly David Chappell died in 1984, aged 81, so was not able to see his memoirs professionally published.

"My aunt is thrilled by the book though," said Ms Mills.

Ms Mills added that she was "captivated" by the book when she read it.

"It is just a lovely gem of social history and I learnt a lot from it. I knew that local soldiers took horses to the front line during the First World War but I didn't realise they went round all the farmers requisitioning their hay to take as well.

"Hillesley was a very rural little village and very independent. It had is own thatcher and smithy.

"People were self sufficient, but they had to be because it was a day's walk to Wotton and not everyone had a horse and cart," she said.

To celebrate the book, a special launch party was held at Hillesley's Baptist Chapel last Saturday and was attended by Ms Mills, her cousin and David's widow Kathleen Chappell.

"To have held it in the chapel makes it feel like the book has come full circle," said Ms Mills.

Hillesley A Backward Glance is available from Cotswold Book Rooms, Wotton, Novel Hovel, Wotton and at Wotton Heritage Centre, and costs £8. The book is also available by mail order. Call 01249 760600 for details.