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A romantic novel and new movie due out next spring could be a tourism magnet for Oban and its neighbouring island of Kerrera, according to its creator.
Retired geologist-turned-writer Glenn Ward, who used to live in Glasgow but has now made Spain’s Costa Blanca his home, says his book The Right Bus – and the film based on it – has got just what it takes to give visitor numbers a boost when life gets back to normal after Covid.
Both Oban and Kerrera feature heavily in the book, with the Regent Hotel and the town’s celebrated whisky also getting a mention in its pages.
Mr Ward drew on many ‘happy hours’ he spent in the area as a tourist soaking up a West Coast welcome and says the location was the ideal spot to set his story – although the idea for the plot took shape hundreds of miles away out at sea while he and his wife were sailing round the Mediterranean.
‘It was during those calm, and often not so calm, days that the story took shape in my mind. So I spent many happy hours aboard, writing the book. The main theme of the book is about making the right choices in life – getting on the right bus,’ said Mr Ward, whose son Billy, an artist living in Copenhagen, designed its front cover.
The hero of the tale is a marine biologist who is tasked with tagging the Arctic terns bred on Kerrera with GPS trackers, tracing their amazing 60,000-mile journey each year. The plot revolves around him developing a relationship with a young American widow who comes to Oban after inheriting properties from an aunt who fell for a soldier billeted in the town during the Second World War.
After a film shoot in Oban last year, the movie, made by Robbie Moffat in association with Pink Flamingo Films, is almost ready, with fingers crossed for a March release.
‘Many people who have read the book have said that it made them long to visit Oban, and again when the situation normalises I am sure that Oban, along with all Scottish tourism will appreciate publicity and exposure,’ said Mr Ward, whose other son Ed Ward has also had a role to play in his father’s latest venture.
Ed plays the role of marine biologist David Gregson in the film. His love-interest Connie Renton, played by Suzanne Kendall, is on the receiving end of a surprise inheritance from a relative originally from Oban but who married an American soldier and emigrated to the United States. Keeping true to historical fact, the Regent Hotel was a Second World War billet for allied troops.
Connie’s children are played by Edan Hayhurst, who acted alongside Colin Firth in The Secret Garden, and Edith Glad. Others in the cast are Ruth McGhie, Guy Siner, Chris Bearne, Maurice Byrne and Jason Harvey.