Earth Boy – A Memoir of Kindness in Ashford

The Retreat Animal Rescue in Ashford is a voluntary and not-for-profit charity animal sanctuary. Over its thirty years in operation, they estimate they have saved over 20,000 animals – a very impressive figure. The founder of the Retreat, Billy Thompson, has now published a memoir of his many years spent rescuing animals, titled “Earth Boy”.


“Earth Boy” includes hundreds of Billy’s stories collected together, showcasing a life dedicated to compassion and care for all creatures.


Like many people, Billy was pushed to take up this project during the pandemic. “I was first prompted to write my memoirs after catching COVID in 2020 and being left with long COVID and unable to do my regular interaction with animals,” Billy explains. “I decided in January 2021 to write about kindness, and that was the start of my memoirs.”


Billy completed the book in less than a month, finishing the first draft in only 21 days. His passion for the subject matter shines through in the prose as he recounts events from his life and from his experiences rescuing animals. It shows too that he began with a bang – Billy says that his favourite memory comes in the form of a childhood anecdote when he rescued a pony on the bus with his sister, which came as a huge surprise to his mum and dad.


Although Billy had previously dabbled in writing, and had completed several children’s books and a novel, he had never got round to publishing his works. Earth Boy, however, held a special place in his heart.


“I wanted the book to be a positive message from start to finish,” Billy says. “But of course all our lives contain an amount of loss that still hurts now. In Earth Boy this included writing about the loss of a partner when I was in my twenties and telling the story of a great friend who had also passed away.”


As well as writing about his experiences with animals, Billy also recounts the extraordinary bonds he has formed with humans over the course of his life, creating a full picture of his history – the sad times as well as the triumphant ones.


Ultimately, though, Billy hopes that the book will have a positive impact on its readers. “My hope for Earth Boy is to rekindle people’s pure kindness we all had when we were children. Try and show true compassion every day and don’t let fear influence your decision making,” he advises. “There’s never been a greater need for love to conquer all and if this is the case, animals will benefit from our kindness.”


Publishing Earth Boy marks the start of a new journey for Billy as he has now fully caught the writing bug. Long COVID has left its mark on many of us, forcing people to adjust to a new normal, and Billy has been using his recovery time to embrace his new passion.


“Since not being able to return to work still, I have been writing profusely since,” he says, which is great news for the readers anxiously awaiting a sequel. Billy has plans for Earth Boy to be a trilogy of books, and the second instalment is almost finished. He has also returned to his previous fiction projects, and has been working on the novel that he completed years ago. “I’ve also started a book on the emotional lives of seven farm animals that live with me (from quail to cow). I absolutely love writing!”


All proceeds from sales of Earth Boy will go back into the Retreat and help the animals in need – a fitting tribute for a book dedicated to compassion and empathy for our fellow creatures. You can buy copies of the book on Amazon here or by searching for “Earth Boy”.


You can keep up with the latest news and events from the Retreat on their Facebook @TheRetreatAnimalRescue and also visit their website for more details.

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