Bispham teenager's ghost story wins national writing award

A talented young writer from Bispham has won first prize in a national writing competition for young people,
Proud Fleetwood teenager Gracie Beirne  after winning the national writing competitionProud Fleetwood teenager Gracie Beirne  after winning the national writing competition
Proud Fleetwood teenager Gracie Beirne after winning the national writing competition

Gracie Beirne, 15, who attends Fleetwood's Cardinal Allen RC High School, used her imagination to create a chilling ghost story to win the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition, an annual event for young writers.

Entrants had to finish a story based on the opening paragraph provided by last year's winner, Liz Hyder, set in a graveyard.

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Judges were impressed with the scope of Gracie's entry, titled Remember, and awarded her first place ahead of hundreds of other entries.

Ironically, Gracie wrote the story as part of her homework and forgot all about it, so she was pleasantly surprised to find out she was a national winner.

Gracie,of Rivington Avenue, Bispham said: "Our English teacher Mrs Hilton, set it as a piece of homework and then entered our stories for the competition.

"It was a lovely surprise when I'd won - it's such an amazing opportunity for young writers."

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Gracie, an avid reader, wrote about a woman who takes a short cut through a graveyard on her way to work and is perplexed to see a gravestone with her own name on, after taking a tumble.

A series of strange events ensue before the story is finally resolved.

For winning first prize, Gracie was awarded seven beautifully bound books by celebrated authors, a certificate and card.

Prue Goodwin, lecturer in literacy and children’s books, and judge of the competition, said: "A short story is one of the most difficult sort of texts to write because readers must be transported to the ‘story world’ very quickly.

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"I am a genuine reader as well as a judge, and I wanted to be immediately engaged by the opening, eager to read on, enjoying the unfolding plot as it comes to a satisfying conclusion.

"Gracie’s ghost story, Remember, keeps readers guessing from the start and continues to a chilling ending. It really stood out.”

The competition runs in conjunction with the prestigious Branford Boase Award, which recognises a debut children’s author and their editor.

It was set up in memory of the outstanding children’s writer Henrietta Branford and the gifted editor, Wendy Boase, editorial director of Walker Books, who both died of cancer in 1999.

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The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition aims to find and encourage writers of the future, something Henrietta Branford was always keen to do.

It is open to anyone under the age of 19 and every year there are sackfuls of entries from all over the country.

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