A FORMER teacher, encouraged to become a writer by eminent author Michael Morpurgo, has been helping school children open a new chapter of their lives.

Children’s author Adam Bushnell spent the day with pupils at Gurney Pease Academy, Darlington, sharing the secrets of creative, descriptive writing.

The Hartlepool-born writer was teaching in London when he met Michael Morpurgo early in his career and before he wrote the celebrated War Horse.

“He is the reason I am an author,” he told Year 5 and 6 pupils. “He used to visit my school to hold workshops like this one and he told me I could be a writer. I had always wanted to be a writer but was afraid of rejection. Michael convinced me I could do it and today I am going to turn all of you into writers and illustrators.”

He said he loved drawing and it help him think and plan his books. He worked with the children by starting with a drawing of an island on which he added features such as stinky swamps, volcanoes, caves and waterfalls.

He then took them outside to experience the wind and rain and explore all of their sensory perceptions which could be used in their stories and introduced them to his pet tortoise Jet.

Adam brought in artefacts including his grandfather’s uniform and medals which he was awarded after fighting at Vimy Ridge in World War I, asking the children to write in the form of a diary of a solider on the frontline.

English lead teacher Kerry Cooper said pupils had really enjoyed the experience. She added: “It has been a fantastic opportunity for the children to work with an author and I will carry on what they have learnt in their English lessons.”