On Thursday June 25th Ray D’Arcy announced the winner and two runners up in the Page From My Life writing competition that has been running on his radio show this summer.
Ray and his team were inundated with over 2,500 entries which were whittled down and sent off to the four judges and authors Eoin Colfer, Donal Ryan, Emilie Pine and Emer McLysaght.
The overall winner was Elaine Wilbur from Galway who wrote about childhood friendship and a sense of belonging. The 39 year old psychotherapist and mother of three boys read her story on air for Ray and his Radio 1 listeners.
On hearing the news of the win Elaine said, “I have to catch my breath. I feel absolutely overwhelmed. I can’t believe this. Oh my goodness. Wow!”
Ray D’Arcy said, “I’ll give you a chance to catch your breath while I tell you that all the judges were effusive in their praise… and they all felt it touched something inside them and they all identified with the themes you wrote about so well.”
Of the winning entry Emer McLysaght (co-author of the What a Complete Aisling trilogy) said it struck a chord a with her, “There was so much in that. It’s great when writing is relatable but it doesn’t have to be. It was relatable but it was something I could never write myself, if that makes sense… I felt like it was my childhood but written so beautifully by you! It was just gorgeous.”
Author of Artemis Fowl series Eoin Colfer said: “I think alot of writers might have been the quiet children in the group and maybe would have liked to be the action men… You can talk about all the rules you want, you can toss out all the various things that people should do but when someone comes along with talent it just blows all that out of the water. And you can’t even fully explain why it’s the winner but it is absolutely the winner.”
Author of Notes to Self Emilie Pine said, “It’s really captivating, it’s a lovely voice. We read all of these and we talked about them alot and we all said about yours, and loads of pieces, this could be the first chapter of a book, this could be the beginning of something.”
Author of All We Shall Know, The Spinning Heart and The Low and Quite Sea Donal Ryan said, “The language is extraordinary… throughout the piece the language just sings, it doesn’t feel forced at all. The beauty emerging from it is gorgeous.”
The competition runners up were Susan Carry and Ann Battersby. 50 year old Susan Carry from Kells in Co. Meath wrote about waiting for a medical procedure and the beginning of her battle with cervical cancer. “I’ve never written a thing in my life! … I’ve had an awful year but this is the best thing that’s happened. I’m so humbled… I’m not looking for a pity party or sympathy vote or anything but a year ago I had had my colon removed and this time last year I was so ill and so weak. I cried every day…. To be able to do this and the have the energy to write this … and to get this far is just amazing. I’m blown away.”
60 year old Ann Battersby from Palmerstown in Dublin wrote a story about a road trip, her pregnancy and her partner’s betrayal. “I’m shocked. I’ve told it so many times. I’m an open book so I tell it as it is. I’ve been threatening to do it for ages and with the lockdown I had a bit of time and the competition just spurred me on to do it…To see it down in writing – I tell that story so many times because once I get to know people, I don’t have any secrets – and everybody always says “Oh my God you could write a book.” That’s only the beginning of it!”
The overall winner will receive €1000 from Easons and the two runners up have won €500 euro each. The three entries will be published in the next issue of the RTE Guide on shelves next Monday June 29th.
120 of the entries (including the three winners) will be published in a special book in aid of charity being published by Harper Collins this Autumn.
If you would like to read the winning entries: