January 2017 Competition Results – David Prest

January 2017 Competition Results

David Prest, founder and MD of Whistledown Productions, set a precedent at January’s meeting. The competition was to ‘Write a proposal for a radio production involving a local building, landmark, personality or area of interest.’ Having chosen five entrants, David changed our normal format and invited them to present their work live on Tuesday evening. All five took to the stage to read out their 200-word entry. He followed their reading with a quick question and answer session before asking the audience to vote on the entry that they thought was most saleable. The results and proposals are below:

1st Place: Lynda Lawrence – Jane Austen’s Bicentenary

2nd Place: John Quinn – Never Break the Chain

3rd Place: Wendy Fitzgerald – Beauty’s Rose

Highly Commended: Rosie Sutcliffe and David Lea 


1st – Jane Austen’s Bicentenary by Lynda Lawrence

2017 will be the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death.

A few days after Jane died, her sister Cassandra wrote to their cousin:

“She was the sun of my life, the guilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, it is as if I had lost a part of myself.”

This letter could form the basis of a radio production that explores the more intimate relationships that Jane Austen had with her sister, family and also with the place where she lived – her beloved Chawton, where she wrote the majority of her novels.

The production could explore:

– Jane’s day-to-day life, her visits to her brother at Chawton House and how she connected to the broader community.

– The impact of her death on Cassandra and those close to her, how they mourned and the probable causes of her death.

– Interviews with Jane Austen experts, well known writers and actors who have played her characters.

– Jane’s connection with Winchester and her burial in Winchester cathedral.

– The impact of her writing on successive generations and as an important part of literary education.

– Events to mark the bicentenary.

2nd – Never Break the Chain by John Quinn

This proposal is to tell the story of the Isle of Wight’s fascinating and anachronistic floating-bridge, as it bangs close its metal safety gates and clanks its underwater chains for the last time after 168 years of service to Prince and pauper.

Both the nation’s sailing capital and the door to the Isle of Wight, Cowes grew along the banks of the River Medina, but has never boasted a bridge.

Instead it has relied upon the chain ferry, as much part of the island’s DNA as the Needles, to join its two halves and keep the island’s economy alive.

A sleek, modern, diesel-powered ferry replaces it in 2017 and will ensure commuters are dry and warm, delivery vans have a speedy connection and holiday makers no longer endure the infamous ferry queues. It will be nothing like its wind-blown, noisy, dirty and charming predecessors.

With a linking narrator and wealth of archive audio, new atmospheric sounds from the busy, working river and interviews with past and present ferry captains, commuters, holiday makers and business owners we can bring its history, and future, alive in a charming but insightful and compelling feature.

3rd – Beauty’s Rose by Wendy Fitzgerald

An hour long programme exploring the highly contradictory and controversial life of Henry Wriothesley: 3rd Earl of Southampton – Tudor/Stuart man of mystery, intrigue and action.

In the style of a Journalist report on ‘the life of’ … with experts and interviews.

“See his monument in Titchfield Church; his home, the romantic Titchfield Abbey. Walk his canal to the Haven. Look for the ‘Iron Mill’ names, after his works.

Who really was the Earl of Southampton?

The Fair Youth of Shakespeare’s Sonnets? What exactly was his relationship to the Bard? Jailed in the Fleet for eloping with Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting; co-conspirator of the Essex Rebellion – who persuaded the Queen to spare him, whilst Essex and the other rebels were executed? Why did King James free him from the Tower on his accession? Why was he re-arrested in 1604?

Colonialist, industrialist, canal-builder: he tried to enrich Titchfield – but they burnt his effigy at their carnivals. Handsome, favoured courtier – but hated by many, including the King’s favourite, Buckingham. Patron and lover of literature, poetry and plays – yet hardened soldier, serving in Ireland and Holland, dying there with his son.

Enter his rich exciting world – and decide for yourself!”

Highly Commended

A Head Of Plaited Hair by Rosie Sutcliffe

I would like to offer a fifteen minute, local interest radio play inspired by the fascinating and unusual artefact on display at Romsey Abbey.

This is a head of plaited hair, long, lustrous, beautiful auburn hair, discovered in a lead coffin in 1839, having survived the skeleton and any other remains of the lady that it once adorned, believed to have lived in mid to late Saxon period.

Through a one act, four scene play I will attempt to bring to life this woman, using historical evidence with some speculation to shed light upon this amazing local mystery.

Scene one introduces two local teenagers entering the abbey reluctantly to embark upon a history project they are drawn to the macabre yet beautiful hair and quiz the local churchwarden.

Scene two involves the three key characters involved in the discovery of the lead coffin and its bizarre contents, the moment of discovery.

Scene three is a speculative reconstruction of how the Saxon lady may have lived, who she was and how she died.

Scene four brings us back to present day, highlighting how the history around us still impacts and touches us today.

A Hampshire Retreat by David Lea

There is a meadow near Twyford that slopes down to a valley and which contains the remains of an iron-age settlement. At the top of the meadow is a Victorian reservoir comprised of huge cisterns that are mostly underground: cavernous, domes of brick swirling in precise arcs from floor to ceiling and back to floor again.

In the 1980s the reservoir was converted into a bunker for the great and good of Hampshire in the event of a nuclear war. It is made of reinforced concrete and has blast-proof doors, air locks, showers and decontamination rooms.

A company that analysed virus threats to nationwide computer systems used the building after it was decommissioned in 1997, but it is now home to The Natural Death Centre, which specialises in non-religious funerals. Permission has recently been given to develop the site as a dwelling.

The programme would tell the story of the building and its immediate environment, of the people who built it, of those who have used it in the past and of those will take it into the future. It would use scripted speech, interview and soundscape. The ¼ hour after World at One on Radio 4 would be ideal.




Round Up

Report by Lisa Nightingale

1BookFair2016Fourteen book sellers lined the Annual Members’ Book Fair finishing off the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s fifth successful season. Keep an eye on this blog for their details.

It’s been an inspirational year! Talks came from High Fantasy Author James Barclay, Crime Writer M J Arlidge, Kate Walker on her Twelve-point Guide to Romance and Children’s Author Steve Voake. In between these we fitted in a short story masterclass with Della Galton. Screenwriter Robin Mukherjee will be returning as an adjudicator in September’s free competition.

Kate Mosse shared her writing secrets in May and in June Clare Morrall joined Chris Cleave who came over all weird! EveryoneBraveisForgiven

Our competitions this year have been judged by among others; Author Allie Spencer and Adrienne Dines, Emma Scattergood, Senior Lecturer in School of Journalism, English and Communication at University of Bournemouth and Winchester University’s Creative Writing Degree Programme Leader Glenn Fosbraey.

Simon Trewin of WME
Simon Trewin of WME

Our mission is to encourage writers of any style or standard introducing them to Publishing World Professionals. We’ve had talks from Literary Agent Simon Trewin and Little Tiger Press Publisher Jude Evans.

Next season’s programme is all but finalized. Renowned Comics Writer Pat Mills, Historical Romance Writer Adele Parks, Cosy Crime Writer Simon Brett and Women’s Saga Writer Margaret Graham will be joining us. We’ll also talk poetry with Maura Dooley and Maggie Sawkins, short stories with Clare Hey and Radio Programmes with Whistledown’s David Prest.