Awards Night at Ayr Writers’ Club

On a beautiful warm May evening, not too uncommon here at this time of year, Ayr Writers’ Club members met for a meal, friendly chat and the presentation of Awards to those who had been successful in the ten competitions run by the club throughout the year.Winners 2017 It’s quite a hectic schedule producing work for them all, as well as for the Scottish Association of Writers competitions and any others that catch our collective eye. And of course, there’s all the work we do for publication in its variety of genres.

I only managed to enter three club competitions this year but was awarded a third in the humorous article (Naked Lobsters and Corrugated Bottoms) and first in the book review. My review was of Les Wood’s hilarious crime novel, Dark Side of the Moon, les woodabout a bunch of inept Glasgow gangsters trying to steal a large and valuable diamond. You can read the review here.

But I was surprised and delighted to be awarded the Dorrith Sim Published Writer of the Year (you can read about Dorrith in my previous blog). Dorrith was one of the first people I met when I joined the club and she was a tremendous help and inspiration as I learned the craft of writing. Winners 2017 AB 02

My publications for the year have included several nostalgia articles on growing up in Scotland, a short story in a woman’s magazine, several brief historical dramas for the Ayr Renaissance project and of course, my collection of short stories, Take a Leaf Out of My Book. Never miss an opportunity to self-publicise!

And so on to our summer break – but we can’t stand the long months till September until the club reopens, so we meet fortnightly in members’ homes for read-around sessions of our WIPs, works in progress. This usually entails an interesting tour of Ayrshire as our members come from all parts of what used to be one large county but is now three smaller ones.

So here’s to a productive summer!

Lest We Forget

Last week I was at the book launch of my friend Gail McPartland’s first novel, Code 998. Set in Nazi Germany, it tells the story of a young, gay doctor whose Nazi fiance sends her for rehabilitation to cure her of her homosexuality. It is not an easy read, in fact the crime writer Douglas Skelton has described it as ‘moving but terrifying stuff.’gail

Although Jewish persecution by the Nazis has been given much deserved attention, what happened to gays, Romas and political prisoners also demands recognition for the suffering they went through at the hands of Hitler’s regime.

Gail spent much time researching her topic and spoke to many survivors of the Holocaust. Howard Singerman, of the Gathering the Voices project, spoke of his family’s experiences and read a poem he’d written for his mother. Libby, the daughter of another dear friend, the late Dorrith Sim, was also there and has done much to carry on her mother’s work in telling her story to those unaware of the atrocities carried out at that time.

Dorrith was only seven years old when her mother put her on a train out of Germany, the Kindertransport, to carry her to safety in Scotland. She never saw her parents again. They perished in a concentration camp.

dorrithDorrith’s book, In my Pocket, is a picture book for children telling her story in terms that young children can understand and appreciate. During her lifetime Dorrith visited many schools to tell her story to the pupils.

Nowadays, many younger people are quite unaware of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis and those who have first hand experience of it all are concerned that, as they grow older, there are fewer and fewer survivors to tell their stories. Gathering the Voices, along with these books, are sources to ensure that it is never forgotten.

Lest we forget.