A prize writing competition is encouraging youngsters to put pen to paper across Sussex.
The contest is being organised by Keith McKenna of Footprints, who organise the Annual South Downs Way Walk (www.southdownsway.com).
Entries for the literary competition open today (April 2) and close on Thursday, April 23.
Keith is inviting children across two age groups to enter stories of up to 1,000 words, which must include the word “footprints” in the opening paragraph.
He is looking for entries from youngsters in either school years 3 to 6 or school years 7 to 11, with prizes for both age brackets.
Top prize in each group will be a cheque for £150; second-place prize will be book vouchers worth £30 from Steyning Bookshop; third-place prize will be signed copies of books by the competition’s principal judge, Helen Peters.
Helen has had two books published by award-winning children’s book publishers Nosy Crow. The first has been described as “an accomplished and hugely-engaging debut novel”.
Keith says he likes to do something new for charity or a good cause each year and was looking for ideas when he chanced upon a piece of writing by his ten-year-old granddaughter Eleanor.
“She has always had a good imagination, but when I saw this piece of writing she had done, I realised that ten-year-olds were capable of writing some really interesting stories.
“That sparked the idea and the competition emerged from there.”
He is hoping school teachers across the area will engage with it. Youngsters entering the competition need to be resident in Sussex. They can submit their entries either by email or by hard copy. Email to email@example.com; hard copy to Pear Tree Cottage, Jarvis Lane, Steyning, West Sussex, BN44 3GL (enclose SAE if you would like these returned).
“We are looking for stories that might be adventures, that might have a little bit of mystery... stories that have a little bit of heroics maybe – but above all else let your imagination run free!”
Keith asks entrants to include their age and address and also to make sure their parents/carers are aware they are entering the competition.
“The two winners in each age group will have their work professionally printed and bound as mementos, and their work will be published online in Sussex Newspapers. Both they and all runners-up will have their prizes presented by author Helen Peters at a meeting in Steyning.”