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February 2021

Winners of inaugural writing contest announced

A Christmas Surprise, a tale of bravery and a story about noises in the night proved to be a winning combination for three promising writers.

Last November, the Hummingbird Centre, a cancer support centre near Bicester, threw down the gauntlet to Bicester's budding writers to come up with original prose - and dozens responded to the challenge.

Judges were given the difficult task to choose three winners after more than 60 people entered the Hummingbird Centre's inaugural creative writing competition.

The winners, drawn across three categories, were:

• 15 and under sponsored by Nicholsons - Sophie Barnett, 10,whose winning piece was titled 'The Christmas Surprise', a magical story for Christmas about going on a great adventure with the amazing, well-rounded character Tilly.

• 16-35 category sponsored by Norbar Torque Tools Ltd- Francesca McMahon, whosewinning piece was called'You are still you', an incredibly moving, incredibly audacious piece that beautifully captures the bravery that it requires to be oneself.

• 36 and over category sponsored by Bicester Chamber of Commerce - winner was Melanie Peak with her story 'Noises in the Night', a real original story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Sophie Francesca Melanie

Each of the winning authors received a personal recorded message from the sponsor of their respective category.

The Hummingbird Centre organiser Diane Mbangwa said: "We knew many people had taken up new hobbies or reignited old ones during lockdown, and for many that was writing.

"So launching a creative writing competition for people to have an outlet for their work and a chance to lift people's spirits seemed the obvious thing to do.We were absolutely thrilled with the overwhelming response and high standard of submissions.We had more than 60 entries and across a wide variety of creative stories, poems, articles and diary entries.The judges said they were very impressed with all of the entries and that the high calibre of entries made it very difficult to choose the winners."

The judging panel included Dave Cassar– acreative writer and author of his own book of poetry; Mark Hanna, a successful multiple nonfiction and fiction book author; and Jodie Brooks, a librarian and Chairman of the Oxfordshire School Library Association.

Each of winners received a kindle thanks to sponsors Nicholsons, Bicester Chamber of Commerce and Norbar Torque Tools.

The Hummingbird Centre, based in Launton, near Bicester, is a support centre for people with cancer and their families and offers counselling, friendship, advice and a host of therapies and pampering.
The Hummingbird team is planning to run the competition again in 2021.



Here are links to the recorded messages to winning authors:

15 and under category:

Tami from sponsors Nicholsons congratulates winner: Sophie Barnett

16-35 category:
Catherine from sponsors Norbar Torque Tools Ltd congratulates winner: Francesca McMahon

36 and over category:
Current chair, Graham from sponsors Bicester Chamber of Commerce congratulates winner: Melanie Peak

Story written by Sam McGregor @