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2023 Competition Winners

We are delighted to announce the results of the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network 2023 Competition on the theme of Journeys.

We would like to thank our judges, Jane Bailey and Philip Rush, and all those who entered the competition for their support of the GWN.

You will be able to hear the winners and runners-up read their work at our event at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday 8th October from 8.00 - 9.15 pm in the Regency Suite, Queens Hotel.
Book Event Tickets
Winning Prose Piece
There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Horse Pill
by Stephanie Carty

Prose Runners-up
Travelling with Mary by Sophie Carabine
The Sleeping House by Tim Jeffreys
Pogácsa by Alex Wardrop

Prose Highly Commended
Embers of Memory by Catherine Awel
Mrs Brown’s Boys by Sue Jay Johnston
Running Free by Pam Keevil
Freight by Imogen Rae
Skin Deep by Marilyn Timms

Winning Poem
Shift: self-portrait as a set of watercolour pencils
by Sarah Hemings

Poetry Runners-up
From Artist to Model —- The Journey of Dorelia McNeill
by Iris Anne Lewis
Puncture Repair by Chris Hemingway
Her Husband by Pauline Masurel

Poetry Highly Commended
Trans Siberia in the April Thaw by Catherine Baker
Journey to Bukhara by Clair Chilvers
How to Mend a Broken Heart by Gill Garrett
These Hands by Carol Sheppard
Leavings by Mark Woods
With many thanks to our sponsor Liggy Webb and to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for their support of our prize-winners’ event.
Our winners and runners-up, together with the two judges, read their work at our event at The Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

Back left to right Frank McMahon, Jean Cooper Moran, Philip Douch, Rebecca Klassen, front left to right Marilyn Timms, Rose Lennard, Christine Griffin, Kathryn Alderman and Stephanie Weston who read Philip Douch's 'In Captivity'

Photo courtesy of Howard Timms

With many thanks to our sponsors Liggy Webb and to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for their support of our prize-winners’ event

Pauline MasurelI Found Myself Lost – Pauline Masurel, Prose Winner 2021

I began writing fiction a long time ago and have written numerous short stories since then but my writing compass had rather lost its sense of direction in recent years. The Gloucestershire Writers Network competition was one of the spurs that I needed to go exploring with words again. Another was a hybrid writing course run online by Tania Hershman, which invited participants to unbox their words. So that’s what I tried to do when writing my entry, I Found Myself Lost. The theme of this year’s GWN competition also acted as an inspiration for the ending of the story.

I was delighted to learn that Debbie Young had judged my story to be the winning prose entry and very pleased to be asked to read it at The Cheltenham Literature Festival. The evening proved to be a wonderful selection of readings by poets and prose writers, combined with the launch of the Signposts anthology. My success in the competition was followed by an invitation to read at Stroud Short Stories and I have also written several other new stories this year. I think that I may now be obliged to admit that I find myself writing again.

Sarah HemingsSecond time lucky - Sarah Hemings, Poetry Winner 2021

I was dashing out the door when my ’phone pinged to tell me that I’d won First Prize in the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network Poetry Competition with my poem, ‘Eastertide’. Now, this pleased me on many levels. Firstly, it’s always nice to win anything (particularly in the poetry world). Secondly, I had also won First Prize in 2019 (that halcyon, pre-pandemic era) with my poem, ‘Vestry’, so to win for a second time felt especially lucky. But I think the thing that thrilled me most this time was the thought that the judge, Carrie Etter, liked my poem. I have admired, and been inspired by, Carrie’s work for a long time now, and her choosing my poem made the win even more special.

As in 2019, I nearly didn’t enter the competition, thinking that I had nothing in my repertoire that corresponded to the theme of ‘Signposts’. It was only on looking through my folder of poems (after a long, hard think about the theme), that I realised that, in fact, I had two poems I could enter.

On the day of the reading, my partner and I were flying home from our holiday. Predictably, our flight was delayed and I ended up skidding inelegantly into the venue with a bare minute to spare (reader, my watch read 6.29pm). I was slightly breathless as I stood up to read, still in my travelling gear, my new dress still on the back seat of the car. All sent to try us. But it was a wonderful evening in the perfect setting of The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham. It felt so good to be back at an in-person event with my writing peers, reading, talking, buying books. Thank you to everyone involved.

Our 2021 Cheltenham Literature Festival Event

On Sunday we sat with the winning readers of our competition and our audience in a beautiful room at The Queens Hotel, the windows showcasing the charms of the Cheltenham scene outside. As the late afternoon became evening, the reds and golds giving up the limelight to a scattering of twinkly white lights, our event began. It was a good start and a lovely venue, so, thank you to The Queens Hotel and The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, and especially the team that helped us in the room. 

It got better. The winners and runners-up and then the judges of the competition read their work. The individual interpretations of the theme “Signposts” in the writer’s own voice, the pauses, the emphases, placed just as they were intended added hugely to pieces that were already so varied, so interesting. So, thank you so much to all who contributed.

Then the audience…. well, what a warm atmosphere!

The team had a lovely time. Thank you everybody.

Our anthology, including all the Highly Commended pieces, is now for sale for £5 including postage at the link below.
From left Lindsey Williams, Derek Healy, Sarah Hemings, Stephanie Carty, Carrie Etter, Sheila Spence, Christine Griffin, Debbie Young, Pauline Masurel
Marilyn Timms, 2020 Poetry winner with Dursley Hare. Sadly Marilyn couldn’t attend the event to pass it on to Sarah Hemings

Photos courtesy of Howard Timms

Competition Anthologies

Previous competition anthologies are available to purchase. 

If you’re interested in reading the work from past winners and runners-up, you can buy copies of our 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023 anthologies direct from us via PayPal below. Our 2020 Competition Winners anthology can be bought through Black Pear Press for £7 + P&P.

If you would like to pay another way, for example by cheque or bank transfer, or you would like the anthology sent to a different address from the one on your PayPal, please email

*Bundle offer* - All Anthologies for £10

Purchase all anthologies (excl. 2020) for the cost of £10 incl pp (while stocks last - we only have 5 left of the 2021 anthology!)

Individual Anthologies

To purchase each anthology individually, click the images below to be taken to the payment page via Paypal (you don't need a Paypal account, just click the 'pay by debit or credit card' button at the bottom)

With thanks to our Sponsors:

We are grateful to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for their support of local writers and for creating the opportunity for the winners and the runners-up of our annual writing competition to showcase their work at the GWN event.
Liggy Webb Logo
We would like to thank Liggy Webb for her generous sponsorship of our annual writing competition.

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The go-to place for writers in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire
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