Last year I won the Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary, an event that changed my life and led to the publication of On the Holloway Road. This year it is the turn of Ruth Dugdall with her novel The Woman Before Me.
The award ceremony last night was a wonderful experience for me personally. It was great to remember where I was a year ago, how things have changed since then, and to be grateful for it all. I also enjoyed seeing the event from another side, without all the pressure and nerves. I was able to relax and enjoy it more, to chat for longer, to meet some great people. Last year was just a blur!
Although I wasn’t going through the same extreme emotions as last year, it was still an emotional night. The award was established by Luke’s family after he died at just 34, shortly after having his first novel published. His mother Elaine and sister Tiffany were there last night, and Elaine gave a wonderful speech about the work they are doing through the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund both to support fledgling writers and to press for a more open discussion of mental health problems. It’s a wonderful and brave thing that they are doing, and I’d encourage you to check out the site to learn more about it and also about Luke’s life (the site was originally his personal website/blog). Donate if you can, or buy one of Luke’s books… and if you’re a writer, start to get your novel in shape for next year’s contest!!