Thirteen youngsters from Blacon are full of smiles after winning a creative writing competition.

Pupils from six local schools put pen to paper in the contest as part of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s SMILE campaign to attract new foster carers and adopters.

The youngsters were asked to share their thoughts about what makes them smile in a short story or poem.

The competition drew almost 300 entries – and the winning 13 have now been published in a booklet titled What Makes Me Smile? .

Michelle Pitchford-Hall from Dee Point Primary School was named overall winner. Alfie Parry, also from Dee Point, and Blacon High School pupil Bethany Irvine won the Key Stage categories and there were 10 runners-up.

Overall winner of the SMILE creative writing campaign Michelle Pitchford-Hall is congratulated by Luke Bailey
Overall winner of the SMILE creative writing campaign Michelle Pitchford-Hall is congratulated by Luke Bailey
 

The winners attended a presentation evening at Blacon High School where they were congratulated by actor Luke Bailey, whose TV appearances have included Casualty and Waterloo Road.

Luke, whose parents are foster carers, volunteered his time to attend the evening to help raise awareness of the need for more foster carers and adopters in West Cheshire.

Councillor Reggie Jones said: “We had an overwhelming response to the competition and all the youngsters clearly gave a lot of thought to what makes them smile.

“The standard was so high that it was tough to select just 13 winners. My congratulations go to Michelle, Alfie, Bethany and all the runners-up – they should be extremely proud of their achievement.

“The competition has also played a valuable role in raising awareness in the Blacon community of the SMILE campaign and how foster carers and adopters can make a difference to a child’s life.”

Cllr Jones added: “I would like to say a big thank you to Luke for attending the presentation evening. He made the evening extra special for all our winners.”

The schools that took part were Blacon High School and J H Godwin, St Theresa’s, Dee Point, Highfield and The Arches primary schools.

The winners were chosen by a judging panel comprising a foster carer, Cllr Jones, the minister of Holy Trinity Church and representatives from the council’s libraries and education departments and Avenue Services.

As part of the borough-wide SMILE campaign, the council’s Fostering and Adoption Recruitment Team has been running a pilot scheme in Blacon which aims to find local carers for local children.

The scheme is supported by all local schools, the Children’s Centre, the library, Avenue Services, faith groups, the local dental practice and businesses.

Initiatives have included ‘drop-in’ sessions in schools and the Children’s Centre, SMILE banners outside the schools and library, the opportunity to speak in church and an exhibition of artwork from the SMILE logo competition in the library.

The Fostering and Adoption Recruitment team runs regular, informal information sessions at locations across the borough.

Further information is available at

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. Alternatively, call the 24-hour hotline on 01244 972222 or text SMILE to 80010.