Storyteller from Lewes wins national award

Pooh and the sweet smell of success: Anne Baker receives her Laureate certificate from Jamie Theakston
Pooh and the sweet smell of success: Anne Baker receives her Laureate certificate from Jamie Theakston

Lewes teaching assistant Anne Baker has won a coveted national accolade for her storytelling skills.

Having searched the country high and low for budding writers, Disney UK crowned Anne as National Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate.

She received her award in London from the organisation’s national ambassador, TV presenter and dad of two Jamie Theakston.

Following research that revealed that 76 per cent of parents tell their children stories inspired by their local area, Disney launched a nationwide storytelling contest to find regional Winnie the Pooh Laureates and one overall national winner. The stories had to celebrate their area’s local history and landmarks in a unique way, just as A.A. Milne used Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest to create the fictional Hundred Acre Wood as the setting of the popular Winnie the Pooh books.

Aspiring Laureates were asked to share original stories inspired by their local area, featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends taking an adventure outside Hundred Acre Wood, or introducing their own new cast of characters. National winner Anne, who works at South Malling Primary School and also collected the Southern title, rose to the challenge and sought inspiration from her home town of Lewes, where she took Winnie the Pooh and Friends on a unique journey to meet the Queen and share a pot of honey.

Jamie Theakston commented: “Having read all the entries, I was particularly inspired by Anne Baker’s creativity, impressive storytelling skills and the inspiration she found in her local area of Lewes to create her imaginative story. I loved the fact that Winnie the Pooh and Piglet got to meet the Queen without even realising! It’s a tale which truly celebrates Winnie the Pooh’s storytelling heritage and Anne should be very proud of her achievement.”

Anne, the mother of two grown-up children, of Dunvan Close, Lewes, said: “I love making up and telling stories, so when I heard about the Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate competition I jumped at the chance to get involved.

“I work with children in my career, and I strongly believe in the value of storytelling for inspiring young kids to be creative and use their imagination. I still can’t quite believe I’m the national winner!”

As well as becoming Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Laureate, she was also invited to perform a live reading of her winning story to a gathering crowd at the Disney Store on Oxford Street to coincide with the launch of the Story Time with Pooh series – free weekly story sessions for children to enjoy in Disney Stores up and down the country.