BT and Barclays give budding young authors the chance to co-write a new book with best-selling author of Darkmouth, Shane Hegarty


As part of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme, selected sites across England are participating in a creative writing competition for budding young authors.

Creative writing competition launches today, inviting young authors across England to contribute a chapter to an exciting new book

In partnership with HarperCollins Children’s Books, author of the successful Darkmouth series Shane Hegarty wrote the first chapter to kick-off the competition and inspire the rest of the story

As part of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme, selected sites across England are participating in a creative writing competition for budding young authors. Aspiring writers in each of the sites, with support from local Barclays Digital Eagles, will be invited to contribute a chapter for a brand new story by Shane Hegarty, author of the hugely popular Darkmouth series, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. One chapter from each area will go on to be featured in the final book.

Shane Hegarty has set the scene with a gripping first chapter, which sees our heroes, Emily and Damian, set-off on a whirlwind adventure across England in pursuit of a mythical monster.

The competition is a chance for youngsters, under the age of 18, to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi to continue the story, writing a 500-word chapter about Emily and Damian’s monster-hunting exploits in their local area. Entrants are encouraged to use the internet as a resource for their research and inspiration whilst writing their submission.

Research conducted by BT has shown that 43% of Brits feel proud of their local community when they share stories or memories of their hometown[1]. This competition encourages children to share their experiences of growing up where they live and include everything they love about their area - its quirks, local landmarks and unique history.

Author Shane Hegarty says: “The power of story-telling is universal no matter what age we are and my mission as a children’s author is to spark my readers’ imaginations. It is a common assumption that the internet distracts young people from reading. However, online access opens up a world of inspiration, as well as providing a valuable research resource. I am challenging young people to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in their local library to contribute to the story chain, thinking creatively about how they can incorporate elements of their local area into the chapter. I’m very excited to see what adventures Emily and Damian come across and to judging the submissions!”

As well as becoming a published author, one of the winners from across England will be selected by Shane Hegarty to win an exclusive Q&A via webcam with Shane, and a reading of the final story, broadcast in their local free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi library or community centre.

Participating sites include:

Workington Library - Workington

Roose Library - Barrow-in-Furness

Acklam Library - Middlesbrough

Lynemouth Library - Northumberland

Walderslade Hook Meadow Library - Chatham

High Street Library - Bolton

Onward House - Bradford

Bromham Library- Bedford

Those who live within any of these areas and are interested in entering are encouraged to visit their local site listed above for a competition entry form and further information.

Anna Easton, BT’s Sustainable Business Director says: “At BT, we believe in the power of communications to make a better world. Storytelling is a fundamental part of communication, whether to improve literacy skills, feed the imaginations and creativity of readers or simply as a way for families to connect. Not only does the free Wi-Fi encourage families and friends to tell stories to one another from afar, through email or online chat apps, but this initiative places the story in the hands of the people, enabling them to use the internet as a resource for research and inspiration.”

Elaine Draper, Barclays’ Accessibility and Inclusion Director says: “This is a fantastic initiative which plays to the strengths of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme. The digital revolution has opened up doors for online exploration and research. Young people can come along to their local library/community centre and make the most of this opportunity to build their IT skills with our Digital Eagles, and spark creativity for their chapter submission. The internet is a powerful tool for literacy and we are putting this in the hands of the future generations to ensure they have an understanding of its capabilities and how to make the most of online resources.”

The BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme was launched in March 2015, providing free Wi-Fi and hands-on digital support in 100 libraries and other community sites across the UK.

BT and Barclays have both committed to support the implementation of the Government’s Digital Inclusion strategy which aims to reduce the number of people offline in the UK by 25 per cent in 2016. Currently one in five adults in the UK are still not online or lack the basic digital skills they need to get online. Find out more about the Government Digital Strategy and the UK Digital Inclusion Charter, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-digital-inclusion-strategy

For further information on the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community initiative, please visit: http://www.wifiinourcommunity.bt.com




Notes to editors

2,000 adults from across the UK participated in the study. The survey was drafted by BT and the data was outsourced and gathered via One Poll, an online research database which polled the respondents on our behalf. More detailed data points are available upon request.

About Shane Hegarty

Shane Hegarty was the Arts Editor of the Irish Times but left to write full time in 2013 when Darkmouth became the sensation of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, with record-breaking publishing deals in the UK, US, Germany, Brazil and more.Shane lives on the east coast of Ireland, in a village not unlike Darkmouth.Only with no monsters. That he knows about.

About BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community

The BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community partnership reflects the long standing commitment from both companies to support communities, and to help those who can benefit most from being able to go online. Both organisations are signatories to the Government Digital Services Charter, and are committed to helping UK people and businesses to benefit from being digitally enabled.

BT has installed free Wi-Fi technology in to the selected sites. The Wi-Fi provided is supported by BT Wi-Fi Protect, a service that filters inappropriate content and protects users and other from accessing sites listed as pornography or similar. People can bring in any Wi-Fi enabled device, or can use the library or other community site equipment. Once the Wi-Fi is installed and working, Barclays Digital Eagles will provide hands-on support to help novice users to take their first steps online, and to assist those who have some knowledge to grow their skills and gain more from being online. Barclays offer digital sessions that support people from as young as five years old.


About HarperCollins UK

HarperCollins UK is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 18 countries. With nearly 200 years of history and more than 65 unique imprints around the world, HarperCollins publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year, in over 30 languages, and has a print and digital catalogue of more than 200,000 titles. Writing across dozens of genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the Man Booker Prize. HarperCollins UK has offices in London, Glasgow and Honley, and can be found online at www.harpercollins.co.uk

About HarperCollins Children's Books

HCCB aims to inspire and nurture a lifelong love of reading by publishing the best books for children of all ages. One of the leading publishers of children’s books and twice winners of Children's Publisher of the Year 2013 and 2014, it is recognised for nurturing new talent as well as boasting a reputable list of established bestselling authors. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many children’s classics, including The Chronicles of Narnia, Hello Kitty, the Paddington stories, The Cat in the Hat and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and to some of the biggest names in children’s literature past and present, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, David Walliams, Derek Landy, Louise Rennison, Lauren Child, Judith Kerr, David Baddiel and Michael Morpurgo.

[1] Research conducted by One Poll of 2,000 adults across the UK in May 2016.