Belfast Telegraph

Co Down nine-year-old brings Royal audience to tears in writing competition at Hampton Court Palace

Youngsters who submitted a short story were invited to a special recording of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show with Chris Evans at Hampton Court Palace.

The Duchess of Cornwall has urged aspiring young writers to “never say no to adventures” as she hosted the final of the 500 Words creative writing competition at Hampton Court Palace.

Youngsters from all over the country who submitted a short story were invited to attend a special recording of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show with Chris Evans in the grounds of the Tudor palace.

Winning entries were read out by comedian Dara O Briain, actor Jason Isaacs, Paddington’s Jim Broadbent, Sherlock star Amanda Abbington, comedian David Walliams and former Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati.

The crowd were entertained by Good Grief singers Bastille and X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, while the duchess rolled up in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to offer her words of advice to the next generation of British writing talent.

In a speech, she said: “It is a huge pleasure to be with you all today – and to have travelled here in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the magical car from one of my favourite stories was a very special treat.

“Those of you who have seen the film might remember the slightly bonkers character of Grandpa Potts. Well Grandpa Potts has some very good advice that I want to share with you this morning.

“His advice is, ‘Never say no to adventures. Always say yes, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life’.”

Camilla added: “I know that all of you here understand the pleasure of stories. They light up our imaginations, touch our hearts and get our brains whirring.”

She finished: “I want to encourage everyone here to keep reading, to keep writing, and to keep saying a big fat yes to adventures.”

Competition winners were treated to a slice of cake made by Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown as well as a ride in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang chauffeured by Evans.

Nine-year-old Fionn McCann, from Co Down, brought tears to the eyes of the judges with his story about a robin bringing messages to loved ones from those that have passed into “the great unknown”.

His story was read by Broadbent.

Fionn told the Press Association that his story was inspired by both his grandmother and a robin he saw hopping on his way to school.

“I don’t really remember my granny. She died when I was very young,” he said.

Fionn is a big fan of Paddington and said it was “really great” that Broadbent read his story.

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