• Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

North East Connected

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Free creative-writing courses underway to celebrate life around River Skerne

A CREATIVE writing project celebrating life around a North-East river has started with the first of a series of free workshops.

The project has been launched by Groundwork North East and Cumbria on behalf of the Discover Brightwater Landscape Partnership.

Discover Brightwater is a £3.3m landscape project based around the River Skerne, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and made possible by people playing the National Lottery.

The creative-writing workshops are being led by award-winning poet Harry Man at three locations with links to the River Skerne – Aycliffe Village Hall, the Freemasons’ Hall in Darlington, and Ceddesfeld Hall in Sedgefield.

The first workshop was held this afternoon at Aycliffe Village Hall and Harry said: “We are delighted with the positive response to the workshops, we’ve got really good numbers attending, and I’m looking forward to hearing exciting new voices.”

Among those attending the first workshop was Danny Metcalfe, a budding poet and short story writer, who lives in Ferryhill.

He said: “It’s a great opportunity to meet other writers and the focus on the River Skerne is really interesting because I like to write about the local area and its history. It’s brilliant to see Discover Brightwater putting on something like this for free.”

Dawn Hopps, a social worker from Toft Hill, was another to sign up for the course in the hope that it will be a step towards achieving her dream of becoming a published writer.

“I felt it would be a good introduction to writing and anything creative that can be provided in the local area is welcome,” she said.

Alison Good, a retired secondary school teacher, is passionate about walking, reading and art, and saw the course as an opportunity to get into writing.

“It’s lovely that something like this is being provided locally and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.

The creative-writing project is being run by publishing company Paper + Ink, run by Mitchell Albert and Tim Moore, who have extensive experience in commissioning, editing, producing and marketing short fiction.

The project also features a short story competition with a £1,000 first prize, and the publication of an anthology of the leading entries. Entries must be a maximum of 5,000 words and feature a reference to the Skerne and the landscape around it.

More courses are being held at Aycliffe, Darlington and Sedgefield over the next month.