Saturday, 6 December 2014

Presentation Evening, 2014

At our annual Presentation Evening on 5th December, the new Chair, Eileen Masters, greeted everyone and briefly summarised the group's activities over the year, highlighting the award-winning anthology, 'Animal Writes', and encouraging people buy it to help raise money for the two charities it supports.

Our first guest speaker of the evening was Catherine Smith, who had judged the annual Catherine Cookson Cup competition. She told us what she looked for in a short story, likening the genre to a fish tank, which provided a glimpse into a different world without distractions from the wider sea. She warned of the dangers of trying to 'cram a quart into a pint pot' and said some entrants had tried to write a novel in 3000 words and encouraged them to go on and write that novel. She said she wanted to be enchanted and intrigued and added that when she had finished the stories placed first and second, she had been so convinced that she imagined the main characters would actually walk into the room. The 2014 cup winner was new group member, Elizabeth Allen, with 'Growing Pains'; Catherine said the story was a polished gem with a distinctive style which drew her in. Sam Davey was second, Roz Balp third and Diana Lock fourth.

After the break, our patron, Tamara McKinley, spoke about the hard work and passion that has to go into professional writing and gave fascinating and inspiring examples from her own long and successful career as a best-selling novelist, which illustrated the dedication and self-sacrifice necessary to garner any rewards, particularly in the current world of publishing. She then handed out certificates to all members who had been placed in the group's five internal writing competitions before announcing the winner of the Writer of the Year Award given to the member who amasses most points across all competitions. This year, after a neck-and-neck battle, the shield was shared between Jill Fricker and Roz Balp.

The evening was rounded off with a raffle for Christmas hampers, and a group photograph was taken by the HWG''s very own world famous photographer, John Coles.