A staggering 74,075 entries have been submitted for this year’s BBC Radio 2 500 Words competition – exceeding more than double the number of entries received last year.
The number of teachers and librarians who have applied to help judge the entries also increased significantly to 2117. Last year an impressive 28,442 stories were received and 1329 teachers and librarians applied to help adjudicate the entries.
The competition, launched by the Chris Evans Breakfast Show earlier this year, was open to listeners aged 13 and under – with entrants having to compose an original work of fiction in no more than 500 words. The competition was split into two categories – for children aged nine and under and those aged between ten and thirteen. There will be three winners in each category.
The Gold Medal winner in each category of this year’s competition will win Chris Evans’ height in books (6ft 2”) plus 500 books for their school library; with the runner up Silver Medal winner receiving Chris’s One Show co-host, Alex Jones’ height in books (5ft 6”). The Bronze Medal winner will pick up their own height in books.
The writers of the Top 50 stories (25 from each age category) will be invited to attend a live broadcast of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show from Hay Festival on Friday 1 June. The six lucky winners will be announced live on air and read out by celebrities during the show.
Five leading children’s authors will now judge the entries – Dame Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams, Lauren Child, Andy Stanton and Charlie Higson.
The judges will pick their six favourites from a short list of the Top 50 from each age group, who will have been chosen initially in the competition by a team of volunteer teachers and librarians. The National Literacy Trust will adjudicate the second stage of the process.
The first 500 Words competition was launched in January 2011. Angus Barrett from East Dunbartonshire and Olivia Norton from Staffordshire won the competition categories through their exceptional writing and edgy style
Chris Evans said: “We are thrilled with this absolutely incredible number of entries! What an amazing reaction yet again. The word is obviously spreading about 500 Words. Now we can’t wait to get going with the judging. The kids, the teachers, mums and dads have done their bit. It’s time for us to do ours. We are seriously chuffed and thank everyone for their effort. Wonderful, marvellous, magnificent. Bring on the new era of ace readers and writers.”