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Trophy Night – 26th April 2023

As another season of AYR WRITERS’ meetings draws to a close, it is always a pleasure to hear and celebrate the trophy winners from our annual competitions.

This year there were ten of them, and Nigel had sought to include as many ‘different voices’ from our club membership, who had proved to be successfully placed in these competitions.

We kicked off with the book review category, won by Kirsty Hammond. She read us her review of Melinda Salisbury’s “Her Dark Wings” which is set in a world where the Olympians are still worshipped, and is a Hades & Persephone retelling, focusing on teenage passions. Placed third in this competition was Gavin Tudhope with his review of “Diddly Squat” by Jeremy Clarkson, in which the author describes entering the difficult and unpredictable life of farming, made worse by the COVID pandemic, and told with the vivid language and imagery a reader might expect from Clarkson.

We were also treated to hearing first and third placed winners of the Non-fiction Article competition, on the theme of My Natural World. Damaris West, placed first, had us enthralled by the beauty of her language as she depicted the wild life, in her piece “From my Window”, in which she conjured up the language of birds, and observed their feeding habits. It was Maggie Bolton who took the third prize with “A Lovesome Thing – God Wot”, in which she explored her love of her garden and gardening, its wildlife and the impact of climate change, as well as the pleasure of watching seasonal changes.

Next up, poetry. Having won first place in this year’s Vanishing Habitats themed competition, I was delighted to read my poem “An Elegy to Lockdown Moments Lost” and shared a bit about the origin of the idea, which sprang from Alison Craig’s poetry workshop, in November.

In the novel category, it was John Eden’s entry, a chapter from “Asexual” which gained third place. Set seventy years in the future, when the world is facing the implications of a population in decline, with falling birth rates, its focus is a teenager who finds his dreams revealing his emotional turmoil as he seeks clarity in terms of his sexuality.

And so, to children’s fiction. From this category, we heard three of the placed submissions. In first place was Carrie Watt’s “The Witching Hour Girl”, the hypnotic, ghostly tale of a child and her mysterious playmate who materialises and vanishes, and their love of an antique doll.

Placed second, was “Sally Saves the Day” written by Tony Viola and read to us by Linda Hull. This tells of the adventurous Sally coming to the rescue of the village Gala Day opening, after the reverent calls for help to restore the missing clapper on the church bell. How does she manage this? With a trampoline, magnets, cable ties and a ladle, of course!

Commended in this category was “Ari the Greek” by Laura Wardrop. Lonely, homeless and scared, it tells the tale of this little dog, his growing bravery, and his adventure which led him from the streets of Athens to Edinburgh, where he finds love.

In the general short story competition, first place was awarded to Matt Richardson for his piece “The Silver-Lined Ridge”. This powerfully told tale of Everest and those mountaineers who are lured to attempt to climb it, is gripping and tense, with an emotional and heart-breaking climax.

The final category of the evening was the Scottish article competition, the results of which were hot off the press. In first place was “Taxi to Holloway, Please” by Linda Brown, a fascinating account of a Scots woman, Mary Marjory MacDonald who, by the 1920s became famous in London as ‘the queen of the hotel thieves’. Her life of crime might have resulted from being orphaned, being unhappy in love, or losing an inheritance; whichever way, she died penniless aged forty-two. Her brief notoriety may, however, have proved useful to Agatha Christie, considering the plotlines of her novels, around this time.

In third place, was “Stitches in Time” by Nigel Ward. Gussets! Nigel cleverly unravelled the history of local textile making over more than four centuries, which began and ended with gussets. The piece explored not only the big picture of the changes in this industry but exemplified them with details of local businesses and in particular the Paton family, in a thorough and well researched piece.

What a wide variety of talent we have in Ayr Writers, and what a pleasure it was to hear these successes in person.

Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who shared.

We left inspired, yet again.


Carolyn O’Hara


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