BROADWAY Arts Festival organisers have announced the winners of a new short story prize launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Almost 200 entries came from around the globe for the competition, which was held in part to offset the cancellation of this year's festival, carried a main prize of £400 and under 16 prize of £100.

Catherine Sleeman from Horsham was announced as the winner of the main prize for her moving story Tomorrow.

She said: “My story was taken very much from real life: on June 24 2016 my grandfather died having developed motor neurone disease about seven months previously.

"For many, that day is remembered in terms of the Brexit result but, for our family, it has a different significance – an added layer of loss. The years 2016 and 2017 were difficult for my family and I have revisited them a lot for myself.

"Here, however, I imagined the events of June 23 and 24 from my mum’s perspective. I wanted to capture her tenderness and her strength as well as a real sense of loneliness as she struggled with the numerous duties of care and causes of grief in her life at that time.

"As the story is such a personal one, winning this competition feels very special. I am very grateful to have been selected, and delighted to hear that the judges were touched and moved by my words. It is a beautiful surprise in a time of national sadness.”

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Sebastian Dibb, aged 15, was the winner of the under 16 category with his imaginative story Broken Heating.

A student at Princethorpe College, Rugby, he was inspired to write his story having read Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol.

Sebastian said: “The news that I had won the competition certainly brightened the lockdown. It came as a real surprise.”

The prize was sponsored by festival benefactors Julia and Martin Wilson, who judged the entries.

They said: “Our idea in starting the short story competition was to expand the range of the Broadway Arts Festival and, more importantly, to encourage imaginative writing, in particular by younger people.

"We were surprised and very gratified by the large number of entries – 193 in all – and by the very high standard of so many of the stories.

"Both the prize-winning entries in the adult and under 16 categories were beautifully written and highly original.”

The winning stories are now published on the festival website at

The Broadway Arts Festival aims to maintain and develop Broadway’s artistic heritage as an established venue for artistic excellence. The festival’s competitions and annual student bursaries play a pivotal role in this.

The next festival was due to go ahead in June, however had to be cancelled. The current intention is that a full festival will go ahead in June 2021, if possible, with some small workshops and events hopefully being scheduled for later in 2020.