An internationally-acclaimed physicist, meteorologist and consultant to NASA, who spends six months of the year living in the USA, is the prestigious winner of this year’s High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature.
Professor John Latham, who splits his time between living in Frodsham, Cheshire, and working as a Senior Research Fellow for the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, was proud and delighted to claim the £2,000 first prize for his children’s story, entitled Magnifying Glass.
John combines his work as a top level physicist with a passion for creative writing. He has previously won first prize in several national poetry and short story competitions, and has had 10 stories and three full-length plays broadcast on BBC national radio stations.
He said: “I was delighted to learn that I’d won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, in part of course because the award is highly prestigious, but also because I was born and grew up in Frodsham.
“I have a home there, and much of my writing has been located there. Of all places in the world, the one that is by far the most evocative, stimulating and memory-laden in my life is Frodsham Hill, where Magnifying Glass is set.”
Unfortunately, John was unable to attend the Awards Evening, held last night as part of the Shell Chester Literature Festival, so his brother, Frodsham resident Geoff, collected the Prize on his behalf.
John began spending part of his year in the USA in 1988. As a research scientist, he has been awarded several medals by the Royal Meteorological Society, and for eight years was President of the International Commission on Atmospheric Electricity.
He is also Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Manchester, and Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds, and has worked as a consultant and advisor for NASA, the National Science Foundation, the US Academy of Sciences, and the UK Meteorological Office.
Runners-up in this year’s Prize were: Sheila Blackburn from Crewe, Northwich’s Caroline Hawkridge, and Stephen Wrigley from Meols. Sheila Blackburn’s story, Cats Eyes, was selected as the winner of the Prize by the children’s panel, made up of a selection of youngsters from Cheshire schools, with Professor John Latham, Neston’s Jon Mayhew, and Sheila Powell from Malpas chosen as runners-up.
Joining civic dignitaries at the Awards Evening, including the current High Sheriff of Cheshire, Alastair Stoddart, was guest speaker and multi-award winning author Geraldine McCaughrean, who in 2006 was chosen to write the official sequel to Peter Pan.
Now in its sixth year, this year’s Cheshire Prize for Literature, kindly sponsored by Bank of America and organised by the University of Chester’s Corporate Communications Department and the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, attracted more than 240 entries. An anthology of a selection of the best entries will be published by Chester Academic Press next year.
Organiser, Lynda Baguley, said: “We continue to be surprised and delighted by the calibre of entrant and standard of writing in the competition. From humble beginnings, the Prize has now grown to be established as an integral part of the North-West literary calendar, and participation by the likes of Professor John Latham, former Cheshire Poet Laureates, and others, is testimony to its prestige.
“The Prize is not just for established writers, however. Every year, we’re pleased to see a growing number of first-time participants who take great joy in the process of writing, and the anthology of the best entries often contains the work of individuals who would otherwise not have the chance to be published.
“There is a depth of untapped literary talent in the region and we hope the Prize will continue to give people a platform to showcase their writing.”