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The winner of a massive writing competition with a record number of entries has been crowned at a celebratory event.
Amateur writer Tracey Iceton was stunned to scoop the top prize in Erimus Housing’s Bohouse Writing Competition after putting pen to paper to take part alongside more than 100 other entrants.
Her moving story about a child growing up through the eyes of his mother brought lumps to the judges’ throats – but proved to be a firm favourite to win the worldwide contest, run in conjunction with Writers’ Block.
Tracey, 33, from Stockton, walked away with the top prize of £500 and will now see her work professionally published by Billingham company Sixth Element, alongside all the other entries put forward in the contest.
She read out her heart-wrenching winning entry at the bustling Writers’ Block Showcase Event, a special event held in Middlesbrough town centre.
“I am just amazed,” said Tracey. “I never expected to win. I have entered competitions over the years and been shortlisted. I can’t believe I have won when there are so many entries.”
Tracey, a teacher at SRC Bede Sixth Form College in Billingham, was just one of almost 120 people that entered the Bohouse writing competition run by Erimus Housing and Writer’s Block, with a theme of ‘home tomorrow’.
It was the highest amount of entries Writers’ Block had received for a writing competition, with entries flowing in from as far as India and Korea.
Tracey’s text tells the story of a boy’s life, from his birth to his last journey as a forces officer who finally returns home after being tragically killed while serving for his country.
The competition was judged by an expert panel of Evening Gazette editor Darren Thwaites, local writer and BBC broadcaster Natalie Boxall, experienced screenwriters Laura Degnan and James Harris of Writers’ Block, and artistic Bohouse resident Jo Fairfield.
Chris Smith, managing director of Erimus Housing, said: “We are thrilled with the amount and quality of entries into the competition; the ‘home tomorrow’ theme really captured people’s imaginations.
“Thank you to everyone that took part – but there can only be one first prize and Tracey proved to be a very worthy winner.”
Bohouse is a state-of-the-art complex of 20 vital live/work units for graduates from the creative and digital industries and gives graduates from the creative and digital industries chance to stay in the area and set up businesses of their own.
Chris Smith added: “Creative writers were one area we hadn’t tapped into with regards to Bohouse but this competition wasn’t just about promoting the scheme with them, we also wanted to find undiscovered talent – and that’s exactly what we have done.
“Our Bohouse scheme is all about people making their creativity work for them. Bohouse and its networks of support and knowledge can help their talent work as a business, boosting the local economy and its reputation at the same time.”
Writers’ Block, based in Broadcasting House in Middlesbrough, provides a service for new and established writers. It plays host to regular training events and provides networking and business-to-business opportunities, introducing creative people and their work to industry professionals.
Writers’ Block aims to train and support creative individuals and businesses, to find ways for them to work together, and to celebrate the results of these collaborations with regular screenings, launches, discussion groups and showcasing events.
Laura Degnan, director of Writers’ Block, said: “We were awed and overwhelmed by the quality of the tales submitted.
“There is real talent; so many distinct voices, and we feel sure that there are authors you’ll be hearing a lot about in years to come.”