A North East building society has launched a competition to spark the imagination of the next generation.

Darlington Building Society, which released its first children’s book earlier this year, is asking children and young people from across the region to submit short stories to be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes.

Speaking of the competition, Society chairman Jack Cullen said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young authors to really showcase their creative flair and we can’t wait to read the entries.

“The Society is ‘Big on Education’ and proud to support literacy across the areas we serve. Darly’s Magical History Ride – our children’s book charting the adventures of mascot Darly the Train was just the start of that and we hope that this competition will encourage those who have a passion for writing to put their creativity to work.”

The competition, entitled ‘Little did I know…’, will feature entries from primary and secondary school aged children judged by a well-known panel including award-winning Paddington Bear and Rudyard Kipling animator Sheila Graber, and Jessica Shepherd, whose celebrated Grandma books have been praised for helping children understand dementia.

Three finalists will be chosen for each of the two age categories and their stories will be read to the judges, families, and VIP guests at Darlington’s Theatre Hullabaloo on Friday, February 15th, in the weeks leading up to World Book Day.

There is guaranteed to be a happy ending to the tale with the two winners each receiving £500 worth of books for their school library, their own height in books, and a magical mystery ride for their family.

The winning entries will be featured on the Darlington Building Society website, along with being in The Northern Echo and on tfmradio.co.uk.

The deadline for entries is February 1, and they can be submitted by email, post or in branch.

For further information about how to enter the competition, please visit www.darlington.co.uk/story.