THE winners of a competition to find the next generation of writers were announced at a special ceremony.

Held at Castlepoint Library, the finalists and runners up in The Mayor of Bournemouth’s Short Story and Young Journalist Competitions, which are supported by Daily Echo, were announced and presented with their awards by Cllr Rod Cooper.

Children’s author Beverley Naidoo gave the opening line, which the entries in the Short Story category had to complete. It read: “Never. I can’t do it.”

The competition attracted submissions from schools across Bournemouth, which collectively put forward 110 pupils of all ages for the shortlist.

Beverley Naidoo said: “It’s a wonderful competition, just really, really great.

“I hope that it encourages more readers, because without them there is nobody to see the work of writers.”

She said the competition had attracted some interesting plots for stories, including an elephant who sneezes, a child who visits a horror house and even a piece about a girl who hates eating Brussels sprouts.

Cllr Rodney Cooper, Mayor of Bournemouth, said: “I am delighted to see how popular this competition has been and I am hoping that this will become a yearly event.”

Heather Young, children and learning services manager at Bournemouth council, said: “We have had a great response from schools and children for this competition and it was lovely that we have had such a mix in the ages of the young people, from seven to 17.”

The winning entries will be published in the Daily Echo and in an online newspaper.