The creative brain behind some of the UK’s most enduring children’s television programmes presented aspiring storytellers with their prizes at the 11th Cheshire Prize for Literature evening, hosted by the University of Chester.

Brian Cosgrove, co-founder of British animation studio Cosgrove Hall Films, which produced programmes including Noddy, Bill and Ben, Chorlton and the Wheelies, Count Duckula and Danger Mouse, provided an insight into his long career and took questions from the audience before joining the current High Sheriff of Cheshire Susan Sellers in handing out awards to the winner and runners-up.

Cheshire Prize for Literature judge Jaki Brien in conversation with animator and writer Brian Cosgrove during the awards evening
 

This year’s competition, sponsored once again by MBNA in Chester, was for a piece of children’s literature and attracted scores of entries from writers the length and breadth of the county with themes ranging from local history to fantasy.

The first prize of £2,000 was presented to Tanya Ravenswater, from Kelsall, for her poem Badger, which was then read out by Brian Cosgrove.

Brian was recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the university.

Tanya, who works in schools and local communities running creative writing projects, said: “I am delighted to have won this award. Having been lucky enough to have had work selected for previous Cheshire Prize anthologies, I am very aware of the quality of the published collections and how the organisers provide an excellent experience to participating writers. It is very encouraging as a writer to receive this affirmation.

“I would like to acknowledge all involved at the university, literary agents Susan and Paul Feldstein, and everyone else who has supported me so far.

“In its original form, the poem Badger was written for a friend, who also has a fondness for badgers, their fascinating traits and way of life. The natural world has always been important to me and remains a key source of inspiration in writing in poetry and prose for adults and children.”

Linda Houlton, from Malpas, was awarded one of five runners-up prizes for her poem Volcanoes Are Rude.

The school and community librarian at Bishop Heber High School said: “I was absolutely delighted to win the award because I had so much fun writing this poem. As a child’s imagination is limitless, I could explore weird and wonderful concepts. Therefore my ‘rude’ volcanoes could be in trouble in school and cause mayhem at their version of football’s World Cup.

“My poem Twelve Men and a Cheeseboard has been included in a previous Cheshire Prize for Literature Anthology and I feel extremely honoured to go one step further.”

As well as cash prizes, the winning entries and a selection of other submissions will be included in an anthology produced by the University of Chester Press next spring.

Competition judge Jaki Brien, from the university’s faculty of education and children’s services, said: “It was a delight to read all the entries for the Cheshire Prize for Literature this year.

“The range of entries was remarkable, with themes ranging from local history to fantasy. All the competitors had a real understanding of what young readers enjoy so it was very difficult to choose the winners from the entries.”