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Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh is passionate about creative writing, and in conjunction with Amazing Accrington decided to launch a Winter Writing Trail competition in Accrington. Local primary and secondary school children were invited to take part in a creative writing competition, to write a story or poem up to 300-words, on the theme of winter or Christmas.

Entries flooded in, and Julie personally went through hundreds of stories before selecting 15 winning entries, who won a £50 cash prize which was handed out on stage at the Accrington Light Switch On. 11 further entries have been submitted by professional writers and actors, with some outstanding names including Jeanette Winterson CBE.

These fantastic stories are now being displayed in shop windows around Accrington centre. The large window displays also contain a QR code, leading to video and audio files of 26 professional actors reading out these stories – huge names such as Jodie Whittaker, Suranne Jones, Toby Jones, Steve Pemberton, Dominic Brunt and Julie herself. These can also be found on the Amazing Accrington website:

All 26 shops will then be part of an exciting Winter Writing Trail competition, which will see people visit each of the shops to collect one highlighted letter from each poem/story, which will then make a phrase. Trail cards are available from each shop, and from the Market Hall or can be downloaded from the Amazing Accrington website. Entries should then be submitted to Accrington Market Hall, for the chance to win prizes including a family meal at The Crafty Fox, Accrington Stanley tickets, and a hamper. The closing date is 24 December 2023.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, said: “I am so excited to be working on this wonderful initiative here in my hometown of Accrington, it is fantastic to see all the community getting involved and both writing and thinking creatively.

“It will also be great to see the work of professional writers and our local students coming together, and to involve local businesses as part of the competition trail leading up to Christmas is just incredible.”

Sameena King, Manager at Accrington Market, said: “This is such a brilliant idea and the Market Hall are delighted to be hosting the post box to receive the competition entries. Not only will this support our market and town centre businesses with extra people visiting, it will bring people together in a creative way. Hopefully, it will help inspire the next generation of creative writers from Hyndburn too!

The Winter Writing Trail is sponsored by Hyndburn Borough Council and Creative Lancashire. For further updates on the Winter Writing Trail, please visit: