A CHILDREN’S author and illustrator has encouraged school children to draw on their imagination at the launch of a nationwide short story competition.
Celebrated author Liz Million joined pupils at Gurney Pease Academy, Darlington, as more than 150 students from Year 1 to Year 6 prepared to take part in the BBC Radio 2 500 Words competition.
Hosted by Breakfast show DJ Chris Evans, the competition is now in its seventh year, tasking children aged 13 and under to compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words.
Liz, of Darlington, who has written and illustrated a number of children’s picture books, including Be Quiet Belinda, Noisy Neighbours, Digger and Little Fred Riding Hood, said: “I visit a lot of schools as part of my job but Gurney Pease Academy is one of my very favourites in the whole world as my grandfather used to be headmaster here when I was a little girl.
“It’s fantastic that so many students here are getting involved in Radio 2’s 500 Words competition as reading and writing for enjoyment is so important and impacts on all areas of learning in school.
“Anyone can write, I draw and write all the time, you just need to use your imagination, choose something that you are interested in, create a character and, most importantly, have fun.”
The competition will be judged by a panel of celebrities and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. It will be split into two age groups for children aged ten to 13 and five to nine.
Gold, silver and bronze prizes will be awarded in each category with gold winners taking home a pile of books as tall as Chris Evans, 1.88 metres, and 500 books for their school library. Silver winners will be awarded a stack of books as tall as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and bronze winners will walk away with their own height in books.
Gurney Pease Academy English lead Kerry Cooper said: “All the children are really excited about planning and writing their stories, especially after being so inspired by Liz.
“This is the first year that we have been involved in the competition and it’s wonderful to have the whole school from Year 1 to Year 6 taking part. Along with sending entries along to the national competition, we will also be awarding prizes for the best stories in school.”
Pupil Hannah Coffey, ten, of Darlington, added: “I got lots of ideas after listening to Liz Million today and I can’t wait to start writing my story.”