A former police officer turned diver whose body of work takes in some of television's most spectacular underwater documentaries has plunged into the literary world with the publication of his very first book – prompted by missing out on his step-daughter's first day at school.
Ian Thomas, 58, of Teignmouth, took up diving as a hobby during his time at Devon and Cornwall Police during his secondment as a Senior Investigation Officer in Hong Kong.
His growing love of the sport coincided with the development of rebreathers – a device able to recycle air supply to give longer, deeper and bubble-free diving.
As a pioneer and trainer in their use he soon found those skills in demand from filmmakers around the globe, and after returning to the UK took early retirement as a Detective Inspector while based in Plymouth and made the move into diving as a full time career.
Travelling around the globe, primarily as a safety diver for presenters such as the BBC's Kate Humble and many of the world's top cameramen, Ian has spent a considerable time behind the lens himself, shooting footage for "making of" sequences on such prestigious series" as Abyss Live, Planet Earth and Life.
Having recently completed a marathon four-year stint traveling around the globe on a major Canal+/Disney underwater documentary film "Oceans," Ian explained how he became an almost accidental author.
"It all started when I took on a parental role with my stepdaughter Emily when she was eight – I used to tell her bedtime stories and just make them up as I went along.
"I was abroad working when she started her first day at senior school. As I'd written the odd diving article I promised I'd write her a book to make up for missing her big day, so each evening after diving I'd have a few hours to write. The idea was to have it bound as a present for Christmas.
"It was my wife Lu that suggested sending it to a publisher for a critical look and I thought – why not?"
The book 'Emily and her Pharaoh – The Dress' is illustrated by artist Michael Avery and features the time travelling adventures of a beauty contestant befriended by a giant whale. The friendly whale uses mystical and magical powers to transport her to ancient Egypt and beyond.
With a forward by TV presenter and colleague Kate Humble, Ian and Emily are excited by the book's release, with two sequels already written and waiting in the wings.
"I'm very proud of Ian," says Emily, now aged twelve. "He looks just like an author and I'm really happy to see what other people think – I hope it sells!"