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Friday, October 30, 2009

The winner of the 2009 Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary is announced

Author Ruth Dugdall from Suffolk has been announced as the winner of the 2009 Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary, in a ceremony in Central London last night. Ruth received a cheque for £2,500 as well as a publishing contract with Legend Press for her novel The Woman Before Me. The novel will be published Summer 2010.

Two additional prizes were awarded on the night to 2nd and 3rd place writers Iain Laurie for his novel Smilers and Bea Davenport for her novel Kill & Tell. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 10 authors by a judging panel including best-selling authors Sam Mills and Zoë Jenny, Luke’s mother and sister and representatives from Legend Press.

The bursary is funded by the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, founded by Luke’s family in association with Legend Press in 2006, shortly after Luke’s tragic death at the age of just 34. Luke’s book White Summer was the first novel to be published by Legend Press and Luke was one of the UK’s most talented up-and-coming writers. Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke’s name and memory lives on. The bursary was set up to encourage and support the work of struggling talented writers, whose work is yet to be published. The winner of the 2008 bursary Andrew Blackman published his novel On the Holloway Road with Legend Press in February 2009. This year’s bursary received double the number of submissions as last year.

Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press, commented: ”We are delighted to announce Ruth as the winner of this year’s Bursary. The judging panel were gripped with Ruth’s writing and we can’t wait to start working with her on this superb novel. Life is often incredibly tough for aspiring writers, and this bursary offers the perfect opportunity to support and develop talented authors. We are delighted to work with Luke’s family on this award, and from working with Luke, I know he would be delighted at the opportunity the bursary creates.”

Author and judge Sam Mills commented: 'I am amazed that Ruth's book - the winner of a Debut Dagger in 2005 - hasn't been picked up by publishers up until this point. But their loss is our gain! 'The Woman Before Me' is a stylish, intelligent psychological thriller that kept me turning pages from the word go. I have no doubt she will soon be entering the bestseller lists.'

Luke’s mother, Elaine Hanson commented: “The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund has been set up for two reasons, firstly to give support to unpublished fledgling writers, particularly those who have striven to work through the disempowering feelings of anxiety and depression. Secondly to eradicate the stigma that prevents mental health problems being discussed openly enabling support and understanding. It is so uplifting to hear that The Royal College Of Psychiatrists last week launched its own cards specifically designed to be sent to people with mental health problems. With the rock solid support of Legend Press it feels as if we are helping to encourage creativity and inspire openness and compassion which must help generate a healthier environment for us all.”


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