Mayor Praises John Flanner MBE As He Celebrates New Book Launch

Community Celebrates New Book and Award Inspired by Blind Solihull Author

The Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater, joined local business people and dignitaries from across Solihull, to celebrate a book launch and the creation of a new National Civil Service Award.

The event saw acclaimed blind Solihull speaker and author, John Flanner MBE, realise his dream of seeing his latest book, ‘Bitzaro to Buckingham’, published for the first time.

John Flanner MBE, who never thought that he would ever be able to write a book, said:

“As a teenager I wanted to write a book about football and even have a career as a sports journalist.  Unfortunately once the careers officer said what qualifications I would need, I gave up on my dream, thinking I was not clever enough to gain the necessary qualifications.  Now as the result of encouragement from a senior manager and many other colleagues and friends, I have managed to write two autobiographical books and am now, at the age of 68, working on the football one, I never thought I had the ability to write.  Encouragement gave me the necessary courage to live my dream and that is why I am passionate in business about encouraging others to realise their potential and live their dreams.”

The Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater, commented:

“It has been an honour and a privilege for me to meet John. He has proved that no matter what happens in life, with the right determination and encouragement, anybody can do anything.  I am looking forward to reading his latest book.”

The autobiography reveals John’s focus on the encouragement and empowerment of others, while overcoming significant obstacles in his own life, including a traumatic medical emergency when his wife was taken seriously ill at the Bitzaro Palace Hotel in Zante, Greece.

The book also mentions the creation of a new National Civil Service Outstanding Achievement Award, the ‘Inspirational Line Manager of the Year’ Award, inspired by the memory of a manager who encouraged John Flanner to start his career as a speaker.

John Flanner became blind at the age of 19 and conquered his many fears to achieve success in his personal and professional life, culminating in being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2014.  He was also awarded the Civil Service Outstanding Achievement Award for his services to Equality and Diversity in 2006.  There is more about John on his website at:

‘Bitzaro to Buckingham’ follows the success of the first instalment of John’s autobiography, ‘Fear, Fun and Faith’.


Here are some photographs taken at the launch event:

John Flanner MBE and the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater

Nick John, HMRC, the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater, the Rt Rev Dr David Carr, Renewal Christian Centre

Joan Lane, Sylvia Flanner, John Flanner MBE, Ally Flanner

John Flanner MBE signing copies of 'Bitzaro to Buckingham'.

John Flanner MBE addressing the audience at the book launch.

Elizabeth Webb, Dave Edwards, Studio Dave, John Flanner MBE, Clare Bugg, Clare Bugg Communications, Rachel Edwards, Rachel Edwards Writes

Brian Davis, Dr Gordon Coleman, Ally Flanner

Diana Pearce, Rosie Suter

Joan Lane, Janet Crowdell

The Rt Rev Dr David Carr, Renewal Christian Centre, Carole Crabtree, Paul Crabtree

Maggie Tucker, Sylvia Flanner, Anne Barry, Charlotte Nall, Little Fingers Charity

Wendy Oldham, John Oldham, Ally Flanner, Mark Leonard

Muchada Bvunzawabaya, RBM Solicitors, Kyle Cottington, Edit Websites, Rumbi Bvunzawabaya, RBM Solicitors

Tracey Finnegan, Marie Curie, Nick John, HMRC, Lynn Wood, Marie Curie

Lynn Orton, Citizenship Coordinator, National Grid, John Flanner MBE, Joan Smith, Operations Director, Solihull Chamber, Clare Bugg, Clare Bugg Communications

Nick John, HMRC, and John Flanner MBE

The Rt Rev Dr David Carr, Renewal Christian Centre, John Flanner MBE, Nick John, HMRC