Budding authors get to meet their idol

Jenni Roach (right), from Millfield Science and Performing Arts College and classmate Keeva O'Cleirigh met top children's writer Jacqueline Wilson after winning a writing competition.
Jenni Roach (right), from Millfield Science and Performing Arts College and classmate Keeva O'Cleirigh met top children's writer Jacqueline Wilson after winning a writing competition.

Two talented young writers saw a dream come true when they met best selling children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

Jenni Roach and Keeva O’Cleirigh, from Millfield Science and Performing Arts College in Thornton, were invited to be VIP guests at the recent Jacqueline Wilson Festival at UCLan in Preston.

The girls, both aged 12, booked their place at the event after excelling in a competition to finish a short story started by the author.

Millfield enjoyed staggering success as the girls won two of the coveted five places from more than 9,000 entries nationally.

Not only that, but to cap an already remarkable achievement, Jenni’s short story was singled out as the best of all those thousands of entries.

She was even sent a contratulatory note by Ms Wilson, who was most complimentary about the youngster’s writing skills.

The author wrote: “I thought you were brilliant in the workshop and when I read your story I knew you had to be the overall winner.”

Their stories along with the other winners will be published in a book next year.

As well as a writing workshop, the festival included a special lunch with the author and Nick Sharratt, illustrator of Jacqueline Wilson’s books.

In the evening they attended a talk by the author along with 400 fans.

Attending the event with the two Millfield girls was teacher Penny Kaluza, who said: “They both did really well and it was a very proud achievement for Millfield.

“Jenni’s achievement as the overall winner was exceptional, but we have known of her story writing talents for some time.

“She writes regularly and really enjoys her English lessons.”

Jacqueline Wilson’s short story challenge began with her starting with an opening line and the youngsters then had to carry the tale on.

The author has proved so popular with young readers, especially girls, because she writes about realistic issues, including divorce and family break-ups.

She has been widely praised in helping to encourage youngsters to develop a love of reading.