Star-studded day at castle for young Wigan writer

Jessica Burns
Jessica Burns

A talented young Wigan writer will enjoy a high-profile day at Windsor Castle tomorrow after reaching the last stage of a top story competition.

Jessica Burns, from Shevington, is one of 25 young authors in her age category who will be in London for the finale of the BBC’s 500 Words contest.

She will meet children’s a uthor and TV star David Walliams and the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker-Bowles as the winners of the competition are announced live on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show.

Jessica, 10, beat thousands of other budding writers to get to this stage with her hilarious short story Hamish The Tap-Dancing Sheep, which bookworms can enjoy on thecontest’s website.

Her mum Paula Spiers said: “We’re so proud of her and she’s s excited about going to Windsor Castle. She’s not slept for the past couple of nights.

“We listen to Zoe Ball’s radio show and heard about the competition there and Jessica decided she wanted to enter. It took her about a day to write her story and it’s got a bit of a Scottish theme.

“She entered the competition quite last-minute so it was a bit of a rush. She’s managed to do so well.

“She was thrilled to see it on the website. She absolutely loves writing and says she wants to be an author or an actress when she grows up.

“I think she’s most excited about meeting David Walliams. She loves his books.

“It would mean the world to her to win the competition.”

The 500 Words competition is open to youngsters between the ages of five and 13, divided into a number of age categories. Young authors have to write a story on any topic which is no more than 500 words long.

Launched in 2011 the contest has proven a spectacular success, with an incredible 134,790 children penning stories for the 2018 edition.

During the radio show dedicated to the final tomorrow celebrities will read the winning tales live on air and six well-known illustrators will come up with images to go with the best stories picked out by the judging panel.

There are gold, silver and bronze prizes in each age category, with the rewards including huge stacks of books to the height of the celebrities involved in the contest, books for their schools and an invitation to visit the set of a CBBC show.

Jessica’s success in reaching the last 25 has thrilled Shevington Vale Primary School, where she is a pupil.

Head of school Andrew Houghton said: “We’re all incredibly proud of Jessica. We expect great things from her always.

“To get to the final 25 in her age group, especially when she is the youngest in it, is unbelievable.

“She deserves all the attention she is getting. It’s a stunning result for her.”

Jessica is also being willed on at home by mum Paula, dad Michael Burns, her older sister Millie, 14, and the family’s beloved pet dog George.