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B&Q shop worker inspires winning entry to writing competition

The contest was run by the Journalists’ Charity.

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(Stanley McMurtry/PA)

(Stanley McMurtry/PA)

(Stanley McMurtry/PA)

A man who wrote about a B&Q shop worker has been announced as the winner of a writing competition inspired by Charles Dickens.

David Whewell won the competition run by the Journalists’ Charity, an organisation Dickens helped found.

The competition marked 150 years since the author’s death and entrants were tasked with bringing to life a modern-day Dickens character.

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Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens Museum/PA)

Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens Museum/PA)

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Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens Museum/PA)

Mr Whewell said his character, Barbara Copeland, was inspired by an employee he saw at a B&Q in Macclesfield.

“There was a certain individual there who was pretty forceful in her manner, in the way she organised the queue, and I took it a little bit further and I imaged a back story,” he said after being announced as the winner.

“I imagined her perhaps weightlifting and breeding German shepherds.”

He added that his visit to the DIY shop made him think about the “risks” workers were taking so people like him could buy a tin of paint.

Mr Whewell was announced as the winner by BBC broadcaster Kate Silverton in an online ceremony.

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Kate Silverton (Ian West/PA)

Kate Silverton (Ian West/PA)

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Kate Silverton (Ian West/PA)

Veteran Fleet Street cartoonist Stanley McMurtry, also known as Mac, brought the winning character to life in a sketch.

Charles Garside, trustee of the Journalists’ Charity, said the vast majority of entries “referred to characters immersed in the pandemic”.

These included doctors, nurses, care workers, volunteers, transport and supermarket workers.

A statement from B&Q congratulating Mr Whewell on his victory was read out during the ceremony.

It said: “Barbara’s story will resonate with many across the country who have had to change how they work to keep us safe during these extraordinary times.

“Our colleagues have truly risen to the occasion in this respect and it’s been their determination, celebrated here in the spirit and efficiency of Barbs, that has enabled customers across the UK to fall back in love with their homes and gardens during this period.”

PA