RAISED in Hexham, best-selling artist Charlie Mackesy is spreading the timely message of the importance of friendship and kindness through his debut book.

Since it’s release in October, modern fable The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse has touched the heart of both children and adults across the world with its heartwarming life lessons.

Through his four main characters – the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – Charlie spreads the message of warmth, empathy and kindness, and has since seen his work become a online phenomenon through the social media, which led to his illustrations being shared in hospitals, prisons, churches and university colleges around the UK, and in women’s safe houses around the world.

An alumnus of Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, Charlie was always pulled to adventure and preferred ferreting, drawing cartoons and swimming in the River Tyne over his education growing up.

After attempting university twice, but leaving within the week, Charlie headed to America where he spent three months training under a portrait painter, with whom he studied anatomy.

He then travelled back across the pond to work as a cartoonist for The Spectator and as a book illustrator for Oxford University Press, before being taken on by galleries in London, and various galleries in New York and Edinburgh.

One of Charlie’s happiest moments in his career as an artist was making drawings for Richard Curtis on the set of Love Actually so they could be auctioned for Comic Relief.

He produced ‘The Unity Series’, a collaborative set of lithographs with Nelson Mandela in 2006, where artists around the world expressed through art what Nelson Mandela meant to them.

And now, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse has been chosen as Waterstones Book of the Year 2019.

“I am wide-eyed, moved and so grateful,” Charlie said. “What a privilege to be acknowledged alongside such incredible books.

“Thank you so much to everyone, especially all the wonderful booksellers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way. I’m so grateful for your support.”

Sharing the spotlight with Charlie was climate change activist, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who was awarded the title of Waterstones Author of the Year 2019.

It was booksellers across the country who determined the results, by nominating the titles they have loved putting into the hands of customers.

Kate McHale, campaign manager for Waterstones, said: “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a wise and beautiful tale calling for love, friendship and courage.

“Greta Thunberg’s speeches have been an inspiration to millions. Both choices are testament to the extraordinary power of books.”

Readers can rest assured that journey of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have not ended just yet however, as Charlie has promised that the friend’s adventures will continue.