Celebrated author announced as judge for top writing competition

Budding, young writers across the nation are being called to put their talent to the test and battle it out to be crowned champion of a prestigious literary competition. 

The National Young Writers' Awards are back and on the lookout for a wonderful wordsmith to take up this year's highly-contested title. 

Over the past nine years, the awards have seen hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren put to pen to paper and try their hand at storytelling, and this year, competition bosses are hoping to inspire even more young people to give writing a go. 

This year's theme is "The Future", and children will have to write a 500-word story set in 3017. Stories could see families living in space, robots ruling the world or even a new species of animal roaming the wild. 

The competition is organised by tuition provider Explore Learning, who has recruited the help and support of television presenter, adventurer and author of The Falcon Chronicles Steve Backshall to judge this year's entries. 

Steve, who penned Tiger Wars, Ghosts of the Forest, Wilds of the Wolf and Shark Seas, said: “I’m really excited to be the judge on this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards.  Writing waAuthor Steve Backshall is this year's judges my first love and I think it’s so important for children to let their imaginations run wild and have a go at entering writing competitions like this!  You’re often told to write about what you know… so broaden your experience, learn as much as you can about the wild world in order to better protect it.

“I can’t wait to read the stories that the children come up with.  The theme of ‘the future’ gives us so much scope for the weird and wonderful.”

The competition opens today and will run until Friday 5 May. Children from across the UK are being encouraged to enter, from eager young authors to those who are a little more reluctant. The winner will be surprised in a school assembly by Steve, who will announce the National Young Writer of the Year, present them with a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for their family, and £500 worth of books for their school. 

Every child that enters the competition will receive a certificate, in addition to personal feedback from Explore Learning. 

Teachers can get their students involved by contacting Explore Learning on 01483 477414 or emailing youngwriters@explorelearning.co.uk to register. 

Explore Learning tutors will visit their school and hold either a free creative writing workshop for the class or a whole school assembly - completely free of charge. 

Head of curriculum strategy at Explore Learning Carey Ann Dodah is excited to open this year's competition. 

She said: “We are thrilled to organise the longest running writing competition for children, and over the past nine years the National Young Writers’ Awards has been encouraging children to unleash their imaginations and create some utterly brilliant, bonkers and captivating short stories and this year will be no different!  We are absolutely thrilled that Steve Backshall is our judge for 2017 and we know that he will inspire even more children to enter to win the chance to meet their idol – as well as that fantastic trip to Disneyland Paris and the wonderful accolade of being named National Young Writer of the Year!”

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