Budding young Swindon writer commended by best-selling author to win national creative writing competition

Budding young author Olivia Kirby, aged ten, from Bridlewood Primary School in North Swindon, has been selected by Shane Hegarty, best-selling author of the popular Darkmouth Series, as the overall winner of a country-wide BT and Barclays creative writing competition.

Budding young author Olivia Kirby, aged ten, from Bridlewood Primary School in North Swindon, has been selected by Shane Hegarty, best-selling author of the popular Darkmouth Series, as the overall winner of a country-wide BT and Barclays creative writing competition.

The competition was launched as part of BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme, encouraging aspiring writers across England to contribute a chapter for a brand new story started by Shane Hegarty.

Of 63 submissions, eight chapters have been selected to feature in the final book, The Lost Legend.

Shane Hegarty says about Olivia’s chapter: “From the fun start to the twist at the end, this is a great story, so well written. It gives the reader a brilliant sense of the place, but also has great action and humour all the way through. It’s very hard to get everything into such a short amount of words, but this story had it all. I laughed. I bit my nails. I wanted to know what happened next!”

In recognition of this superb achievement, Shane Hegarty will be hosting a live-stream reading of The Lost Legend, featuring Olivia’s chapter, and a creative writing question and answer session atWest Swindon Library on 21st January at 11am, where free internet access is provided through the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme.

Anna Easton, BT’s sustainable business director, says: “Our own research has shown that 43 per cent of Brits feel proud of their local community when they share stories or memories of their hometown and Olivia’s chapter really demonstrates this. [1] Her chapter comes alive with some brilliantly colourful local details so that you really feel as though you are in Swindon with the story’s heroes. It’s clear that Swindon is a unique place and, thanks to Olivia’s creativity, it’s now part of a thrilling adventure story for the entire community to enjoy.”

Gwyneth Dilly, library manager at West Swindon Library, says: “We thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in this fantastic initiative. It was brilliant to see children in the area expressing their creativity and making use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi to get inspiration for their own chapters. It was really difficult to choose which entry to put forward from Swindon but we’re delighted that Shane was as impressed with Olivia’s chapter as we were and hosting a livestream with Shane at West Swindon Library will be a marvellous start to the new year.”

Elaine Draper, Barclays’ accessibility and inclusion director, says: “The Lost Legend is testament to the remarkable creativity of young people in England. The digital revolution has opened up doors for online exploration and research. Young people like Olivia Kirby in Swindon were able to come along to their local library or community centre and make the most of this opportunity to build their IT skills with our Digital Eagles, and spark creativity for her chapter.”

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

BT and Barclays have both committed to support the implementation of the Government Digital Inclusion Strategy, which is aiming to have everybody who can be online using the internet by 2020. Research quoted in the strategy estimated that one in five adults in the UK lack the basic digital skills to realise the benefits of the internet. Find out more about the Government Digital Inclusion Strategy and the UK Digital Inclusion Charter, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-digital-inclusion-strategy

The Lost Legend is available for free download, here. If you would like to attend the live webcast with Shane Hegarty at 11am on 21st January, please contact the library directly to find out more information.

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 referenced. 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.

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.