Huge heritage map of ancient city inspires storytellers

A story contest based on the beautiful heritage map specially commissioned by Totnes has produced a plethora of tales as creative and engaging as the map itself, say the judges.

Budding writers were invited to let their creativity run free, taking inspiration from the huge map on display in St Mary’s Church.

Created by local artist Anna Ventura, as well as being a snapshot of Totnes, the map also features local stories and characters, including local butcher Christopher McCabe emerging from his freezer with a black pudding and the Totnes seal swimming around the Dartmouth Ferry; while illustrator Claudia Schmid’s frontier showcases her unique and beautiful creatures as if on a journey to the ancient city.

The Totnes Heritage Trust has teamed up with East Gate Bookshop to launch the short story competition for adults and children, based on the characters and features of the map.

Totnes Poet Laureate Matt Harvey, who wrote a poem to accompany the card, led the judging team of councilors and heritage trust members Georgina Allen and Emily Price.

Eleven winners and their families were warmly welcomed to St Mary’s by the Mayor of Totnes, Cllr Ben Piper, who praised the success of the participants and the continued hard work of the heritage trust.

The awards were presented by Matt, a nationally acclaimed comedian and performance poet who also hosts Radio 4’s Wondermentalist poetry cabaret.

The twelfth winner, Aviva Fleisher, lives in the United States but was able to join the event via a Zoom link to be congratulated by Matt and see her grandmother accept her award on her behalf.

Matt said: “The entries were of a very high standard which made judging difficult.

“The overall winning story, How the Bridgetown Safari Came to be by Kip Pratt, is a colorful and mythical tale that skillfully combines elements of Totnes’ topography and history while still being just a great story.”

Kip’s story won the 18+ group. The finalists were Valerie Belsey’s A Different Thought of Train and Henry Knight Lozano’s The Tourist in third place. Fearn Kenyon’s Our Town, Judy McVey’s Where the Art Is and Rolf Norfolk’s Sunburst were highly rated.

The top three entries in the 12–17 age group were Kallum Howard’s The Dark Room; Just another annoying, howling seagull from Jessie Taylor; and Freddie Martin Wrigley’s Death on the Dart.

In the under-11 group, the winning works were The Raven and the Plan by Aviva Fleisher, The Map of Alberton by Lily May Hilton and The Goblin by April Knight Lozano.

An anthology of winning stories is being compiled.

About John A. Provost

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