Marion Forrest

When Marion Forrest joined the Drawing & Painting leisure course at University College Isle of Man (UCM), she would never have imagined that she would one day collaborate with fellow students to write and illustrate a book!


Seven years ago, Marion, a retiree who lives in Onchan, received an unexpected birthday gift from her husband and sons that changed her life; it was an enrolment on the Drawing and Painting course at UCM.

“I have always had an interest in drawing and painting, but didn’t really have any particular skills in either prior to attending this course. In fact, my family signed me up to these classes because they saw I was trying to learn to draw by copying an artist on a television show!” Marion explained.

Lifelong friends

What came as an added bonus, was that the course not only gave Marion the opportunity to learn new skills, but it also gave her the chance to meet a group of like-minded women who soon became her closest friends. They all got on so well that in addition to having lunch after class, they would often meet up to socialise at other times in the week.

“I have met some lovely people from attending this class, people who I now consider as lifelong friends. In fact, my husband and I have just recently been on a cruise with some of them!” Marion said.

“We have now all been attending this class for seven years! We get so much out of it and it is a great way for us to continue to make new friends,” she added.

From hobby to a published book

One summer’s day, as Marion and fellow art students, Jean McCabe, Rita Hatterley and Lynda Warren, were sitting together, inspiration struck! Marion suggested that they all write a short story and illustrate it together. Everyone agreed that it was a great idea.

The result was a children’s poem about nine animals having a sunny day out around the Island. Each member of the group contributed drawings and paintings to illustrate the poem, and the book was named ‘A Manx Day Out’.

“We had so much fun creating the book! It was originally only for our own pleasure and to give away to our friends and families, then a friend of ours suggested that we sell a few copies for her charity; we agreed and sold 50 copies for her charity,” Marion expressed.

After further requests for the book, the group had another 500 copies printed and sold them at various locations around the Island including: The Lexicon Book Shop on Strand Street, Presence of Mann at Laxey Woollen Mills, Bridge Book Shop in Ramsey and Port Erin and the Gaslight Gift Shop in Ramsey. Almost all the copies have now been sold.


Looking back on her personal journey, the skills she’s learned and the friends she’s made, Marion considers the whole experience as extremely positive, “I believe that this has impacted on my personal wellbeing too. Not very long ago I was rather poorly and if it hadn’t been for this group of friends persuading me to continue to attend these classes, I’m certain I would not have recovered as quickly as I have done.”

Drawing & Painting course

Marion and her friends have already booked themselves on to the Drawing & Painting course at UCM which is due to begin again soon. She thoroughly recommends the course to anyone who would like to develop a new skill and make new friends at the same time.

Marion explained, “Deborah Houlgrave, who takes the class, is a very experienced teacher. She starts by sharing a technique with the entire class and then she moves around the room to observe our work and provide one-to-one feedback. Another great thing about this course is that there are no exams, so we do really learn for the love of learning and are able to just enjoy being creative.”

Find out more about Leisure courses at UCM here.