Short story competition in Bognor Regis showcases depth of town's writing talent

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Short story writers in Bognor Regis showcased the depth of their talent at a competition last week.

Hosted by the Bognor Regis Heritage Partnership, the Talking Heads competition asked would-be writers to produce a short monologue linked to Bognor Regis itself.

Submissions came flooding in from storytellers all over town, but judges – including Heygates bookshop owner Jason Passingham and crime novelist Simon Brett – whittled them down to a shortlist of seven, all of which were performed aloud at a prize-giving event on Sunday evening (July 07).

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Emmerdale star Jean Rogers gave each piece a sense of verve, gravitas and grace during her performances, bringing to life stories that covered everything from life by the sea, to seagulls, to murder.

Winner Gill Palmer with Simon Brett and Ken Blamires.Winner Gill Palmer with Simon Brett and Ken Blamires.
Winner Gill Palmer with Simon Brett and Ken Blamires.

For organiser Irene Campbell, the event – which took place at The Bognor Regis School of Music – was a labour of love brought to life. “I just can’t believe it, it was wonderful from start to finish,” she said. “Everything just fell into place, the quality of the stories was fantastic, and they were all so different, which was really nice. We had a beautiful venue and it all went ahead perfectly.”

Simon Brett OBE FRSL. best known for the Charles Paris detective novels, in which an actor juggles stage, screen and solving murder mysteries, said the quality of writing was so high it made judging unusually difficult: “I’ve judged a lot of competitions of one kind or another over many years and normally the top stories are very good, but down the bottom there’s some real dross,” he said. “And there just wasn’t this time; it was all written to such a high standard, and that’s quite unusual in a competition like this. So I was really impressed by the standard of the stories, even those that didn’t win.”

Emerging triumphant against such stiff competition to take first place was Jill Palmer, with her story Bird Brained. Coming in close behind was Fairy Tale of Bognor by Penelope West and, in joint third place was One Punch Too Many by Jenny Dean, and the Baffling Case of the Bognor Bureau by Mike Jennings.

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