Harry Potter publisher calls for young writers, to ‘get creative’

Acclaimed publisher Barry Cunningham is calling on budding young authors to get their literary careers in top gear and enter our national writing competition Barry Cunningham

Acclaimed publisher Barry Cunningham is calling on budding young authors to get their literary careers in top gear and enter our national writing competition

Publisher Barry Cunningham has been chosen as one of the judges in our national short story competition, launched to help raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

Barry is calling for children aged 15 and under to get creative and submit short stories, which will hopefully encourage children to write and read more. A new study suggests that almost 4 in 10 (37%) of parents have never read to their children despite 26% saying they have fond memories of being read to as a child, according to new research.

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Youngsters are invited to let their creative juices to flow and submit original bedtime stories. Inspiration can come from anywhere – be it their own real-life experiences or something from the depths of their imaginations.

With 34% of parents saying it is important for kids to be encouraged to write stories, Premier Inn is running a competition for children aged 15 or under, offering them the chance to become a published author. All they have to do is write an original 500-word short story either on the theme of relaxation or inspiration. The winners will see their story be published in a book with proceeds going to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Lending his support to the competition is acclaimed publisher Barry Cunningham, perhaps best known for snapping up J K Rowling and her record-breaking Harry Potter series.

Barry joins an esteemed panel of judges including Gill Stewart the author of ‘Lily's Just Fine’ and Katie Tsang who is best known for writing the popular Sam Wu ‘Is not afraid’ series.

“From a boy called Harry to the Big Bad Wolf, stories are the way we pass on good advice and a sense of wonder! I'm so excited to be a judge on this short story competition for young people – children have a wonderful sense of story and we don't hear enough of them. Here's to finding Premier Inn's master story-spinners of bedtime enchantment and waking wonder!”.

Simon Ewins, Managing Director at Premier Inn UK said:

“We help millions of people to have a great night’s sleep and wake up ready for whatever the day holds, so we’re thrilled to launch our young people’s short story competition which will uncover exciting new stories to help encourage a restful night’s sleep – and get their day off to the best possible start. We’re all a huge fan of the traditional bedtime story and as a great night’s sleep is also all about setting you up for the day ahead, we thought it would be a fun twist to launch the UK’s first ‘wake up-time’ story collection. The UK is bursting with talented young people and we can’t wait to start reading all of the stories entered.” 

Premier Inn experts and an esteemed panel of judges will crown national prize-winners in two categories: under 10s and ages 11-15. In addition, there will be twelve regional runners-up, celebrating the UK’s literary brilliance all the way from the South West to Scotland.

The winning wordsmiths work will then be published, and the prize also includes a two-night stay at a Premier Inn of the winner’s choice.

To submit a 500-word short story, young authors can submit their masterpieces by emailing StoryPremierInn@golin.com

The full Premier Inn short story judging panel:


  • Barry Cunningham - Managing Director of Chicken House
  • Jenny McLachlan - Fulltime writer
  • Roisin Pelan - Journalist and children’s author
  • Katie Tsang - Author of the Sam Wu series
  • Gill Stewart - Author
  • Jim Smith - Author, illustrator and designer
  • Susie Hall - Head of GOSH Arts
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