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News story

Middlesbrough’s budding young writers attend awards event thanks to Grand Central partnership

29 Jun 2015

Five primary school children from Middlesbrough were shortlisted for the prestigious Wicked Young Writers’ Award. Thanks to support from Grand Central Rail, they travelled to London’s West End to attend an exciting award ceremony.

The finalists were chosen from over 500 entries in the five to seven-year-old age-category. The burgeoning wordsmiths sent in their own original stories after a special assembly at their schools delivered by local charity Iron Guidance in partnership with the Children’s University and arts and education company, Apollo Arts. Children were inspired by a live piano performance of one of the songs from the stage show Wicked by talented local musician Josh Elliott. 

Through their partnership with the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough, open access train operator, Grand Central provided free travel for the children and five accompanying adults so they can all attend the awards ceremony on Monday 29 June at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London.

Wicked cast members will be performing musical numbers from their hit show and the event will be hosted by acclaimed author Cressida Cowell. There will also be an interactive literacy workshop involving all 100 of the shortlisted finalists.

Now in its fifth year, the Wicked Young Writers’ Award is inspired by the values of the musical, encouraging young people between the ages of five and 25 to express themselves through writing.

Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough said: “Congratulations to all of these young writers who have done incredibly well to reach the final of a national competition with their stories.

We’re delighted to be able to link up organisations including Grand Central Trains through the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough to promote literacy and help make occasions like this possible”

Sean English, Chief Operating Officer at Grand Central, said: “As well as operating at the heart of the local communities along our routes, Grand Central is extremely proud of its partnerships with organisations like the National Literacy Trust. These partnerships allow us to support local causes that we know are close to the hearts of our passengers. It is a privilege to be able to provide transport for the five finalists to attend a memorable event and we wish them every success.”

Michael McCabe, Wicked's UK Executive Producer said: "The Wicked Young Writers' Award was established to inspire and recognise creativity in writing from young people across the UK. We’re delighted that our new partnership with Children’s University has already helped us to reach new schools and students who have all written incredibly imaginative and exciting stories.”

Victoria Cameron-Hall, Chief Executive at Iron Guidance said: - “We heard about this brilliant opportunity through our membership with Children’s University and we wanted to encourage children from Teesside to enter. To make this possible we delivered assemblies in schools which clearly captured the children’s imagination and we were delighted by the hugely positive response. There were more than 100 entries in just two weeks which is a credit to everyone involved.

We are very proud of the children who are through to the final and to those who were not shortlisted this time,  we say keep writing -  your stories were fantastic and we can’t wait to run another competition through Iron Guidance later this year.”

Amelie-Rose, one of the children shortlisted for the award said:

"It was fun and I like listening to everyone's stories and poems. The theatre was amazing! It was great to see Cressida Cowell too."

Cheryl Walker, Amelie-Rose's parent said: "It was an experience of a lifetime for the finalists, raising aspirations and enthusing  a love for writing.  A moment that will not be forgotten."

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