Dad battles The Beast to make dream come true for daughter

by Mark O'Brien
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A parenting blogger from Tallaght managed to overcome the Beast from the East to grant his daughter’s fairytale wish of meeting her favourite authors.

Gavin Leonard caught the imagination of travellers, parents and book lovers across the globe this week when he endured a mammoth 14-hour journey from Dublin to London with his wife, Shannon, and their 21-month-old daughter, Jade, to attend a book-signing by the iconic Rebel Girls.

The family, who live in Rathcoole, were forced to make alternative travel arrangements when Ryanair refused to let them board their flight to London.

Instead they travelled to Holyhead with Irish Ferries and had to make their way to London via car, train and taxi, with Gavin live-tweeting the journey.

Gavin said: “The Rebel Girls books are so inspiring and teach girls that they can be whatever they want – an ethos which is very close to my heart and the whole reason I started blogging.

“We read Good Nights Stories for Rebel Girls to Jade all the time and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet the authors.”

Gavin received messages from people across Ireland and the UK, and even as far away as America.

His story also caught the eye of Perez Hilton, author Lynne Bradley and The Rebel Girls themselves, Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, who tweeted the Tallaght man encouragement throughout the trek.

Gavin said: “It seemed we were destined to miss the event but the support and encouragement we received on social media really pushed us on.

“It was amazing that they took the time to tweet and us and say they were looking forward to meeting us,” he said.

“When we got there they were fantastic with Jade and it is a trip that none of us will forget – what started out as a nightmare turned into an absolute fairytale.”

Gavin began his blog, Not Just a Princess, to document the time he spends with Jade.

He said the name for the blog came from his desire to teach Jade that she could be anything she wanted to be after many people commented that she could be a baby model or a ballerina.

“No one said she was going to win a Nobel Prize, or invent something amazing, or that she could be the president – and when I said she was going to be a Kung Fu Master or a Ninja, these ideas were dismissed out of hand,” Gavin explains in his blog.

“Although I’m not necessarily against the Princess genre, I do think that the stereotype we are unknowingly projecting onto young girls can be very damaging.

“There might not be hard evidence to back up this feeling but whoever she wants to be, I want my little girl to know I’ve got her back.”

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