Skip to main content

The three winners of #AmazingAccrington and Julie Hesmondhalgh’s Winter Writing Trail competition have been announced.

Hannah Ley, aged 12, won a family meal at The Crafty Fox on Abbey Street in Accrington; Jack Jenson Gardiner, aged 10, was the excited recipient of tickets to watch Accrington Stanley v Grimsby Town on Saturday 3rd February; while Sally Wright, aged 63, secured a special hamper.

The competition started back in October when local primary and secondary school children were invited to write a story or poem up to 300-words, on the theme of winter or Christmas.

Julie went through hundreds of entries before selecting 15 winning entries, with each winning a £50 cash prize donated by #AmazingAccrington business leaders, which was handed out on stage at the Accrington Christmas Light Switch On. A further 11 entries were submitted by professional writers and actors, including the likes of Jeanette Winterson CBE and Joe Alessi.

The stories were then displayed in shop windows around Accrington, alongside a QR code which led to video and audio files of 26 professional actors reading out the stories. These included: star of Mr Bates v The Post Office Toby Jones; the first female Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker; Doctor Foster, Scott & Bailey, Vigil and Coronation Street actor Suranne Jones; BAFTA award winning actor Steve Pemberton; as well as Julie herself, plus many more. All the stories can be viewed and heard online on the #AmazingAccrington website:

Those taking part in the Winter Writing Trail competition, sponsored by Hyndburn Borough Council and Creative Lancashire, had to visit each of the 26 outlets to collect one highlighted letter from each story, which together made the phrase… ‘Merry Christmas to Accrington’.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, said: “It has been a real honour and privilege to be able to run this fantastic competition in my hometown alongside the team at #AmazingAccrington.

“The support we have received has been incredible both locally and nationally, including national radio coverage. It has also been great to meet so many people who have been inspired by the competition and are looking to continue their creative writing, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve. Thank you everyone for taking part!”

Murray Dawson, Chair of #AmazingAccrington, commented: “This initiative has been a huge success for Accrington. To see some of the most successful actors in the country taking part has been wonderful and inspiring for all of us.

“The goals of this competition were to inspire creativity in the borough, as well as encourage more people to #ShopLocal, both of which have been achieved.

“On behalf of #AmazingAccrington, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part including those who entered the competition, our participating shops and to all our professional writers and award winning actors, who took time out of their extremely busy schedules to take part.”

For more information on the events and initiatives being run by #AmazingAccrington, please visit: