Undercover Readers are winners in writing!

Anthony McGowan.jpg

After more than 20 workshops throughout Norfolk schools, Undercover Readers rounded off the year with prizes awarded to the winners of the short story competition at University of East Anglia’s FLY, the Festival of Literature for Young People, on Friday. The prizes were beautifully illustrated book covers of the winning stories by Norwich University of the Arts undergraduates.

The main event for the day was the return of Anthony McGowan, author of books such as Hellbent and Henry Tumour, to award the winners and lead a master class for the young authors. Mr McGowan said “Undercover Readers has given me the chance to work with some amazing young people. Their creativity and energy is truly inspiring and I loved reading their diverse and interesting stories. I hope I have given them a little something back in return.”   

 Carol Furlong Thompson, neaco, Louis Bailey, OVA, Anthony McGowan, Harriet Robinson, Cliff Park and Andrew Underwood, neaco

Carol Furlong Thompson, neaco, Louis Bailey, OVA, Anthony McGowan, Harriet Robinson, Cliff Park and Andrew Underwood, neaco

 Anthony McGowan and Carol Furlong-Thompson, neaco

Anthony McGowan and Carol Furlong-Thompson, neaco

Mr McGowan had the following message for students “to become a good writer first you need to be a reader. The more you read the better your writing will become.”

Undercover Readers aims to ignite students’ passion for literature and encourage them to express themselves through creative writing. The project is being run by Take Your Place and aims to entice more students to ‘find their passion’ and consider study after school.

Louis Bailey a year 9 student from Ormiston Venture Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, said about his winning entry ‘Vertigo’, “it’s definitely a great start for a possible future career in storytelling.” Louis used a villain in his story to represent the media and “how it demands your attention and tries to change you. This is shown when at the end it’s said ‘Mr Nox was now unrecognisable’ since I think things like social media can really change someone to who they aren’t.”

Year 9 student Harriet Robinson, winner of the competition from Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, Great Yarmouth, said about her story, “I have always been a fan of horror and gore so I wanted to write something with death. Winning this competition gives me hope that I could one day be an author.”

Harriet goes on to say, “I’ve had an idea for a story but never had time to write it down, because of school! I’m thinking of writing a story in which the main character has won the heart of an infamous supervillain…unfortunately for them.”

Event Co-organiser and author, C T Furlong said “we loved all three winning entries from the first readings”.

For Take Your Place, the project is all about raising aspirations and uncovering hidden talents.

Andrew Underwood Event Organiser and Higher Education Champion said, “There is clear evidence to show that young people who develop a love for reading are more likely to progress to university. This project is a great example of what can happen when schools and universities work together to showcase the many different opportunities on offer to young people when they reach higher education.

 Annabel Osborn, Higher Education Champion, neaco, workshop on book cover illustration

Annabel Osborn, Higher Education Champion, neaco, workshop on book cover illustration

“We are engaged in a wide range of activities in schools and colleges across the region, all designed to have a long-term impact on higher education progression. In Great Yarmouth the young person higher education progression rate of just 5% falls way below the national average of 34.2% and this project is one way in which schools and universities are working hard to improve outcomes for young people.”

About Take Your Place and neaco

The Take Your Place programme is delivered by the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (neaco), which aims to increase the number of young people from underrepresented backgrounds in higher education and degree level apprenticeships by 2020. neaco is a consortium of five universities and eight further education colleges across East Anglia and is one of 29 consortia across England which together form the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).