Words for the Wounded seemed like a good idea at the time. Why not start a charity that raises money via writing competitions and donations for the rehabilitation of wounded troops? I’d done it before when I set up the Yeovil Literary Prize to raise funds for the arts in Somerset when the council withdrew funding.
So, I approached a couple of writing friends, Penny Deacon and Tracy Baines and an extreme sportsman, Matt Pain, who happens to be my son. They came on board.
Fairly tedious forms then had to be filled in and a specific charity bank account opened and then we started worrying about how to fund the prizes. Matt did the Lanzarotte Ironman and raised enough and Julian and Emma Fellowes agreed to be our first patrons. Dick Graham did a wonderful website out of the goodness of his heart, and we were off!
Soon we had a long list of patrons. Writers Forum agreed to publish the winners. RAF News showed interest and will also publish the winners. Hours and hours have been spent emailing endless writing groups, ex-pat magazines and Uncle Tom Cobley and All. Only two writing groups responded negatively, saying that they don’t support military charities which seemed rather odd as we are supporting the wounded, but who am I to judge?
And the competition is still open. We are asking for up to 400 words of fiction – or a real life tale – or a poem, on any subject. The closing date is 11th March 2013. So if you haven’t already entered, please do! Details at the end of the blog.
So why do I lean towards writing competitions as fundraisers? I entered my novel for the Constable/North West Arts Award centuries ago. I didn’t win but I was one of the 22 best entries. This gave me the confidence to try and flog it, mentioning this small success. Publishers looked at Only the Wind is Free because of my placement and Heinemann finally took it. I am still writing today and am doing another two for Random House at the moment.
In fact, I found out later that I was 22nd out of 22! So take heart all of you out there.
I totally believe that writing competitions are a great way to raise money because everyone benefits. Those who don’t usually write have a go if they like the cause and it can lead to a new hobby or career. For the winners it can help their CV and lead to a successful writing career. For the beneficiaries it puts a bit more money in the coffers. A win-win situation all round.
And was it a good idea? And will Words for the Wounded become a fixture as the Yeovil Literary Prize is?
Without a doubt. Why? The entries I’ve read so far have been heart warming, inspiring, amusing, wonderful. Judging will be tricky.
But what else? I went to a rehabilitation unit recently. There I saw just a few of those being helped. In particular there was a young lad who had been injured in Afghanistan and come off the front line for three days to recover. He returned to duty, and on his first patrol he was shot through the neck and is now quadriplegic. He was being pushed in a wheelchair by his lovely young wife and daughter whilst his ventilator helped him breathe.
Every single penny of the entry fee goes to blokes and girls like him because they have given so much for us. So please enter, and if you don’t fancy writing, why not consider a donation?
For more information about the charity and the competition, please go to: www.wordsforthewounded.co.uk