Young Writers’ Award

NorthPens Creative Writing Award 2019

We had more than 60 entries this year and it was very hard indeed to come up with the winners, everyone’s story was so wonderfully creative and many of them were beautifully written. Elisabeth’s poem, Beneath the Surface, is a lovely piece, a lyrical and imaginative description of how crystals grow underground. Under the Zoo is a quirky and original story by Lily and Freddie gave us a thoughtful exploration of the light and shade we all have within us in Everyone has a dark side. Our prize winners in the 5-8 years category, Lily, Charlotte and Henry, wrote about three completely different aspects of the theme What Lies Beneath, an imaginative and poetic reflection on what we might find in a mythical land, a great Australian adventure mystery and an entertaining tale about a boy with magical powers. Well done to all of our young writers!

What Lies Beneath …

Prize Winners

9 – 13 years

1st     Beneath the Surface  by Elisabeth Denning

2nd    Under the Zoo by  Lily Hutchinson

3rd     Everyone has a dark side  by  Freddie Wootton

NorthPens Award for a story

           Under the Water  by  Amelia Crawford

Specially Commended

  The Temple by Jasmin Jackson

    Marcus was rummaging…  by William Hart       

    Little Timothy the Worm by Ava Smith          

5 – 8 years

1st A Mythical Land by  Lily Gibbons

2nd Underneath Ayres Rock by Charlotte

3rd Under the Bubbles by Henry Hutchinson

NorthPens Award for a story

    The Underworld by Gracie Wootton

Specially Commended

      Spaceology by Maddison Metcalfe

      My name is Professor Lumb-Brown… by Thomas Lumb-Brown

     The Buried Kingdoms of Archenland by James Potts

What lies beneath … what will you find when you venture below the surface? Let your imagination dig deep for this year’s Creative Writing Award. 

Author and illustrator Rebecca Rose will be running a special workshop focussing on all things hidden below the ground at the Weardale WordFest, Saturday 26th October 2 – 4 p.m. at the Durham Dales Centre and NorthPens Writers are offering writing workshops to schools between now and the end of November.

All of the workshops, and entry to the award, are free of charge and open to anyone up to the age of 13. Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 8 and under and 9 – 13 years.                       

Stories should be no longer than 500 words, poems up to 15 lines. Entries must be received by Friday 6th December

You can post your work to: NorthPens, 11 Union Lane, Stanhope, DL13 2UZ (on A4 paper, single sided, please) or email it to   Don’t forget to include your name, age and contact information.                         

If you would like to know more about the Writing Award, or to discuss holding a workshop at your school please get in touch with us:

Creative Writing Award 2018

Congratulations to all of our young writers. As always, judging the entries was an incredibly enjoyable, but very difficult, task – the standard of the writing just gets better and better! We will put some of the award winning stories and poems on this page soon.

Pupils at Wearhead School with their certificates.

Lily Gibbons (centre), won the NorthPens special prize for a poem and Lily and Henry Hutchinson,who both go to Stanhope Barrington School, took the NorthPens prize for a story with theirspecially illustrated tale, at Frosterley School with Chris Powell and Chris Woodley Stewart

Competition Winners Freddie Wootton, James Potts and Gracie Wootton at Frosterley School with Chris Woodley Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership/UNESCO GlobalGeopark and Chris Powell of NorthPens Writers.

Around forty young writers between the ages of 5 and 11 rose to the challenge of the 2018 NorthPens Writing Award, submitting stories and poems on the theme ‘Out of This World’.

Some of the entries interpreted the theme to mean a journey into the far reaches of the galaxy, others stayed closer to home to create an alternative world of the imagination. The poems and stories were, without exception, original and ingenious and many were very sophisticated and beautifully written, so trying to find winners was immensely enjoyable, but also very, very difficult!

However, Freddie Wootton’s clever story of a scientist who found the solution to a complex problem by letting his mind wander ‘out of this world’ impressed the judges and won the 8 – 11 yrs category while James Potts took first prize in the 7 yrs and under category with his entertaining tale of ‘Glob, the Brave Alien’. All of the entrants received special certificates.The award was sponsored by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and the theme was chosen to link in with the 2018 North Pennines Stargazing Festival. NorthPens Writers ran workshops in Weardale Schools to help stimulate ideas and children’s writer Sarah Gibbeson held an inspirational writing and illustration workshop as part of the Weardale WordFest.

There were two prize-giving ceremonies at Friday celebration assemblies; one at Wearhead School and the other at Frosterley School, where Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, also entertained pupils and parents with his revelations about the stars and the vast distances human beings have to travel to get ‘Out of This World

Prize Winners, 8 – 11 yrs

1st Another World                                      Freddie Wootton

2nd The Hanging Gardens of Babylon    

3rd Out of this World                                Holly Nattrass

Special NorthPens prize for a story:  How Monsters Became Good  by   Lily Hutchinson,      illustrated by Henry Hutchinson

Prize Winners, 5 – 7 yrs

1st The Adventures of Glob the Brave Alien          James Potts

2nd Saturn                                                                 Gracie Wootton

3rd. Bubble Land                                                       Poppy Dalton

Special NorthPens prize for a poem:        The Chocolate Pool  by Lily Gibbons

Tales from the Museum – Young Writers’ award 2016

The Award Ceremony was held at High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn, on 19th October


Ellen Lewis, 1st prize winner 8 -11 years

Ellen Lewis, 1st prize winner 8 -11 years


8-11 years

FIRST PRIZE:  Poke, Pull  by Ellen Lewis

Special Commendation for Poetry:

The Peg Doll by Olivia Richmond,  Weardale Museum by Jack Heslop

Special Commendation for a story:

The Girl with Many Dolls  by Emily O’Flaherty Edworthy

7 years and under

FIRST PRIZE: The Meat Grinder by Finlay Coates

Special Commendation for Poetry:

Killhope Mine by Rowan Greaves-Bubb

Special Commendation for a story:

Nutcracker Island by Freddie Wootton,  The Mangle that Talked by George Jameson

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our young writers. There were nearly 40 entrants this year, the standard was exceptionally high and, as always, you gave the judges a really hard, but really enjoyable job. A special award ceremony will be held at the Weardale Museum during the third week in October.



NorthPens at the WEARDALE MUSEUM, researching the 2016 Creative Writing Award with David Heatherington.

 Tales from the Museum

This year’s award is sponsored by The Weardale Museum. Your entry can be either a poem or story inspired by something you see in the Weardale Museum or an account of your visit to the museum.

Stories or accounts must be no longer than 500 words, poems no longer than 15 lines. Submit your entries on A4 paper, single sided please, and don’t forget to include your name, age and contact information (not counted in word limit!)

Entry to the competition is free and open to anyone up to the age of 11. Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 7 and under and 8 – 11 years. Work will be displayed at the Upper Weardale Agricultural Show (St. John’s Chapel) on the last Saturday in August. Entries must be received by Friday 5th August.

Send your work to: NorthPens, 11 Union Lane, Stanhope, DL13 2UZ or email to 


Write to somebody famous, (you choose who) inviting them to come to Weardale. Tell them why they would enjoy visiting the dale and about all the great things they can see and do here.

Jack with his letter from Kensington Palace

Jack with his letter from Kensington Palace

What our young writers didn’t know was that all of their letters were actually sent to the famous people they wrote to. Jack Heslop (pictured) didn’t win the competition, but he wrote a letter to Prince William and, in due course, he received a reply from Kensington Palace thanking him for his lovely letter and saying that Prince William was very touched that he should have taken the trouble to write.  A very excited Jack was presented with his letter at school assembly (St. John’s Chapel) and give a special letter-opener with which to slit open the envelope!


Some of our winners with their certificates at the Upper Weardale Agricultural Show (29/9/2015) L -R Ellen Lewis (special commendation, 8-11 yrs); Robert Lonsdale (Winner, 8-11yrs); Harriet Lewis (Winner, 7yrs and under).

CONGRATULATIONS to all our entrants, there were some fantastically creative and well written letters – you made the judges’ job really difficult!

highlights from some of the entries:

Dear Guy Martin

From Eastgate down the dale you will arrive at Stanhope. There are lots of things to do here. If you turn left at the top end of Stanhope you will climb up a big bank and get to Crawleyside. Above Crawleyside is Parkhead Station café aswell as an old quarry which is often used for motorbike trials which I’m sure you will really enjoy.

In Summer you will be able to go for a swim in the open air swimming pool. In Winter you could book tickets and have a ride on the Polar Express and meet Santa at Stanhope Railway Station. Don’t forget to wear your onesie!

From Robert Lonsdale Aged 10

To the Queen

It would be grate if you good come to Weardale bekos you good skate on ice, take dogs for walks at Burnhope, jump off waterfalls and have treks on ponys.

I fink you would really enjoy it hear in Weardale.

love from Harriet Lewis (age 6)

To Prince William, from Jack Heslop (age 8)

……You may wish to visit some attractions with your family whilst visiting Weardale. You could try Killhope leading Museum, the Dales Centre, Stanhope open swimming pool or Weardale Museum. There are also plenty of shops to pop in to should Princess Kate fancy a bit of shopping.

To Pippa Funnel from Ellen Lewis (age 9)

…..We have lots of lovely bridle paths. If you go up to Burnhope Reservoir you might see red kites, sandpipers, red squirrels and lots of robins. If you go up on Stanhope and Killhope fells, you might see hen harriers and, more often, grouse and golden plover.

To David Tennant from Thomas Berry (age 9)

….. If you have children go to St. John’s Chapel School it has all sorts of things to do and is really good fun. You can play Connect 4, tag, stuck in the mud and lots more. You can go to the cinema club to watch great movies. It’s on every two weeks at the Town Hall.

To Chris Kyle from Kyle Evans (age 9)

….. I think you would enjoy visiting our Dale because we have so many different things to see and do. Some of the best things to do are, walking the hills, then a visit to the pub for a cool british beer and a meal of local food.

To Jaqueline Wilson from Francesca Cruddas (age 10)

…. You might even get inspired to write another book set in Weardale …. We have beautiful views, fells, farms and wild life and everyone is very nice! We even have our one hair dressers and fish and chip shops. ….. You could also visit the local ‘Chatterbox Cafe’ and meet Cameron the owner and get a lovely piece of cake and a bacon sandwich. …. When you step into Weardale it is like stepping back in time. Nothing has changed for years.

to Jaqueline Wilson from Jessica Gibson (age 11)

I live in a beautiful place called Weardale. …… As you are a writer, I know you would enjoy writing about the adventures that are possible to have in Weardale. If you were to visit Killhope  Mine you would have the chance to to down the mine. It is amazing and not something that is forgotten quickly.