A WEST Cumbrian teacher has had her first children's book published - by a new publishing company in Cockermouth.

Keswick School English teacher and librarian Helen Robinson has written Little Pearl, which is based on her first pony.

She was delighted when Elterwater Press agreed to take it on as their first book.

Helen, who writes under her maiden name Haraldsen, grew up in Whitehaven and went to riding school in Wilton from the age of nine.

"I rode different fell ponies but Pearl was my favourite, I struck up a thing with her."

Her parents later bought Pearl and another pony and every day for the next four years, Helen went to the stables to muck out and ride her pride and joy.

The family later moved to Lowca, taking the ponies.

Helen, who now lives in Great Clifton, first wrote Little Pearl in 2005 when she was working as a primary school teacher at St Patrick's in Workington.

Last year a sequence of events prompted her to dig out the story, improve parts and update it with the help of a literary editor.

Helen runs Keswick School's reading and writing club which recently secured sponsorship from Elterwater Press.

It was through the club that she met Peter Fox, who set up the company with his wife Jo.

"I asked Peter for some advice and he offered to have a look at the book," said Helen.

She was delighted when they agreed to publish it. The book came out this week and is available in local shops.

"It's exciting and also daunting," said Helen.

"I want lots of people to read it but it's also quite scary."

Peter and Jo, who live in Cockermouth, are from Australia, where they ran a guidebook publishing company. They moved here in 2001 for six months but loved it so much they decided to stay.

Peter is an archeologist and historian by trade, Jo started out as a journalist.

The couple opened Strengthening Practice about 12 years ago, a training company for health and social care. They produce materials and books to support training programmes and have a staff of seven.

"We thought, we have everyone here, the skills and backgrounds so why don't we set up a publishing company," said Peter.

Little Pearl is available in: The New Bookshop, Cockermouth;

Hills in Workington, Bookends in Keswick and Carlisle and Turnout Equestrian Supplies in Maryport. Helen will be signing books at Turnout's open evening on March 28 .

For more information, visit www.helenharaldsen.co.uk