Campaigner inspires literary outpouring

Emily Inspires! day in Morpeth.'Rachel Cochrane. Ref:JCMH 150613emily41

Emily Inspires! day in Morpeth.'Rachel Cochrane. Ref:JCMH 150613emily41

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WRITERS across the country have put pen to paper for an Emily Inspires competition.

Both a national and Northumberland writing contest were organised as part of the centenary programme, with entrants invited to write from the perspective of Emily, her mother Margaret or neighbour Bob, who took the Suffragette to Morpeth Railway Station on the day she set off for the 1913 Derby.

Almost 200 entries were received for the national competition, while 78 were submitted from Northumberland.

The winner of both sections was Allison Davies, of Guide Post. Despite entries from Emily and Margaret’s perspective outnumbering Bob by two to one, Ms Davies wrote from the neighbour’s point of view.

Rachel Cochrane, of listenupnorth.com who organised the adult contest and led writing workshops at libraries, said: “We had nearly 200 entries nationally, from Scotland to Cornwall, which was great for creating awareness of Emily Davison and her Northumberland connection.

“We promoted the competition not just through traditional media, but also using social media and we had lots of people writing about it online.

“The entries we have had have been fantastic for quality. It has been a privilege to read them.

“The great thing is that we have encouraged a lot of people who have never written before to have a go. I had an email from a lady who is almost 73 years old saying she had entered and she hadn’t done any creative writing since she left school, which is a great testament to what the writing competition has achieved.”

The first prize for the national contest, which was judged by authors Wendy Robertson, Janet MacLeod Trotter and Michel Chaplin, was a two night stay at Longhirst Hall, including an evening meal. The second prize was an ipad donated by Barry Rowland of Northumberland County Council, a set of books by Bridget Gubbins donated by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) and a subscription to Myslexia magazine. The third prize was £100 donated by SCA Paper Products in Prudhoe and a Book of Northumberland Images donated by Morpeth Chantry.

Sanderson Arcade sponsored the county competition, awarding gift sets, and the winner also claimed a hamper from the county’s Learning Disability Service. A hamper from Taste Club was given for second place, with a collection of books by Bridget Gubbins donated by GMDT for third place.

Both first prize winners also received a cut glass trophy. All of the winning entries will be recorded and put online at listenupnorth.com

Ms Cochrane said: “I would really like to thank everybody who has contributed to the prizes and I would also like to thank the judges and the Emily Inspires working group, which has been so supportive in helping me bring the competition to fruition.

“The winners will be recorded and put online for everyone to listen to, which is great because it can reach a potential global audience.”

A children’s writing competition, organised by Philippa Raper of Janus Creative, ran alongside the adult section.

The winner was Rebecca Laidlow, of Newbiggin, 
who attends Bedlingtonshire Community High School and wrote from Emily’s perspective.

In joint second place were Toni Williamson, also of Bedlingtonshire Community High, and Remy Ling, who attends Ponteland Middle School.

Mrs Raper said: “The children’s writing competition has been wonderful. We had a really good response. Some of the entries were amazing — better than some of the adult ones. It has really encouraged people to do more writing.”

The winning adult entries were announced and read out at performances of To Freedom’s Cause, a play about Emily, while the children’s winners were read out at a Werca’s Folk concert.