Perrywood Garden Centre's Hannah Powell wins book award

Hannah Powell’s memoir The Cactus Surgeon has been awarded the winner of the Selfies UK Book Awards in the memoir/autobiography category.

Hannah Powell
Hannah Powell

These national awards recognise the UK’s best indie-published books. 

She is communications and HR dircector at Perrywood Garden Centres, and her debut book was written in lockdown after joining the Michael Heppell 'Write That Book' Masterclass. She followed him on social media after hearing him speak at two GCA conferences. Her memoir outlines her relationship with nature and the amazing way it has positively influenced her health and wellbeing, as well as telling stories about growing up living next to a garden centre. 

There were eight titles shortlisted, and winners were announced on April 5 at the London Book Fair. The judges praised "the simplicity of [the] storytelling", a cover that was "perfect for this kind of writing", and "integrated photos enhancing the narrative and the book's sense of renewal". Judges: Alan Staton (Booksellers Association), Alan Samson (ex-Weidenfeld), Ben Hughes (IngramSpark). 

BookBrunch managing director Jo Henry said: "We have been thoroughly impressed by the wide range of topics covered and the professionalism of the publishing expertise shown by the 25 authors on this year's shortlists. The powerful stories told in the memoir/autobiography category made immersive reading for our judges, while the winner is very much a book for our time.

Powell said: “As a new, and self-published, author it can be quite challenging to gain interest and recognition. This award is just wonderful. It’s given me a huge confidence boost, and a desire to keep writing.”

She received a cash prize of £750, which she is donating to charity FND Hope UK. They support those suffering from FND. She will also receive a profile in BookBrunch, a winner’s certificate and other publishing opportunities and packages from sponsors and supporters. 

The Cactus Surgeon outlines how, when living in London, she suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up living on the same site as Perrywood Garden Centre in Tiptree her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of London, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction.

After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued. 

The Cactus Surgeon is available at

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