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72 year old great grandfather of two wins top prize in writing comp 59 years after leaving school

News overview

A pensioner in his seventies who left school at 12 has returned to college to study a GCSE in English and ended up winning the top prize at an annual creative writing competition.

The contest was set up by Suffolk New College eight years ago in memory of a former English and media lecturer called Steve Ransom who tragically passed away at the age of 45 in 2016.

A total of seven awards were handed out this year during a ceremony that took place at Chefs’ Whites restaurant in Ipswich and out of those seven, former EADT editor Terry Hunt chose an overall winner.

Danny Davey and Terry Hunt

On attending this event Terry said: “It’s wonderful event and I’m always very impressed (by the standard of high-quality entries. I spent 40 years with words (working in the media) and I’ve come to appreciate the power that they can carry.”

Terry chose Danny Davey, 72, from Ipswich as the overall winner for his piece called ‘Euthanasia: murder or mercy?’ – a story that Mr Hunt described as ‘a clear and thought provoking piece of writing’.

Danny Davey and Wife

The winner – Danny – reflected on his decision to return to education. He said “I never wrote until I started here in September last year. It’s 59 years since I went to school. In 2016 I got a C grade in maths (at Suffolk New College) and I’m hoping to do the same in English (in August). Writing is something that has always been on my bucket list.”

Danny – who is an Ipswich Town fan – has had a pretty good couple of weeks with promotion secured and this award. He continued: “After the GCSE (in English) I want to find a writers group and try and develop it (writing). I’d never written a story until September and now I have won this. It’s a big boost.”

The father of four children, grandad of ten and great grandad of two – who was a roofer before writing – added: “I’ve got to be the oldest student in the college. This has surprised the heck out of me. I can’t explain what it means to be stood here as the winner – I’m absolutely stunned – and it has inspired me to keep going. In terms of what’s next – I’d love to write a collection of short stories.”

Danny won a £100.00 voucher for coming first. All category winners won a £20.00 voucher and runners up got a £10.00 voucher.

Organiser of this event is Louisa Hubbard is the head of English at Suffolk New College. In terms of continuing to honour Steve via this event, Louisa said: “Steve loved reading, loved writing and loved being witty with words; most of all, he loved teaching.

“So, it seems fitting that we continue to honour his memory by running this competition to showcase the talents of our students and staff in the field of creative writing.”

In terms of the awards Louisa added: “The standard was as high as ever and congratulations to everyone who got involved and all of the winners.”

Laidy Rodrigues Da Cruz was another award winner – securing the top prize in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) category for a story she wrote about her mum. Laidy, 17, from Ipswich who barely spoke English when she came to the UK from Portugal said: “I feel good to win this award and very happy. It has made me want to write more in the future.”

Laidy Rodrigues with writing award

The current editor of the EADT also backs this event because of her longtime friendship with Steve Ransom. Liz said: “I miss Steve and think of him often. He was a massive Ipswich fan so I’m sure he is looking down smiling at their promotion – as well as these awards.

Liz added: “Congratulations to Danny. It shows that you are never too old or young to benefit from the power of education.”

Danny Davey and tutor Katie Ward

Katie Ward – a lecturer in English and creative writing at the University of Suffolk – presented Danny Davey with his short story category award. As well as receiving a voucher, Danny also got a copy of Katie’s book called Pathways.

The Zone and Chef’s Whites also donated prizes.

Posted 21 May 2024