THE award-winning author and illustrator team responsible for bringing the treasured characters Biff, Chip and Kipper to life has revealed the winner of this year’s Cheshire Prize for Literature.

Rod Hunt and Alex Brychta were the special guests at this year's High Sheriff's Cheshire Prize for Literature 2017 awards evening at the University of Chester’s Riverside Campus.

They gave the audience of children, parents and entrants to the competition an insight into how to create their much-loved and world-famous stories.

Rod and Alex are the team behind The Oxford Reading Tree series, one of most widely used reading schemes in the world. It is enjoyed by children in 85% of UK schools, and in over 130 countries worldwide. Since its launch, it is estimated that more than 30 million children have learnt to read with The Oxford Reading Tree. The stories have been translated into over 15 languages including Welsh, Spanish, Afrikaans, German, Turkish and Norwegian and there are Chinese and Far-East editions for ESL (English Second Language) teaching.

Rod is also an alumnus of the former Chester College and received an honorary degree from the University of Chester last November.

This year’s competition was for Children’s Literature, with approximately 140 entries covering a wide range of themes received from the length and breadth of the country, as well as internationally.

The first prize of £2,000 was presented to Laura Bridge for her story, The Crate.

Laura, who lives in Bath city centre, but is originally from Knutsford, said: “As a Primary School teacher I was excited to hear how Rod and Alex create their stories. I was overwhelmed to win and it was such an honour to have an extract of my story read out by Rod!”

Eric Twist, from Great Sankey, Warrington, who wrote The Exploding Artichoke and Elizabeth Iddon, also from Great Sankey, Warrington, who wrote The Fall of the Sycamore were both highly commended and received £250 each.

Both Sharon Forsdyke, a University of Chester graduate, for her story Saved by the Elephant and Elizabeth Harris, for her story The Spy Left Out in the Cold, both from Chester, were commended and received £125 each.

As well as cash prizes, the winning entries and a selection of other submissions will be included in an anthology produced by the University of Chester Press next spring.

The Cheshire Prize for Literature competition is supported by the University’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services. The intended readership for entries was seven to 14-year-old children. The competition is always open to residents of Cheshire, Warrington, Wirral and Halton, including those who have ever lived, worked or studied in the area.

Head judge Simon Poole, who is the programme leader for the MA in creative practices in education at the university and senior lead for cultural education and research at Storyhouse, said: “It was a great pleasure to read all of the entrants to the prize. We had an astonishing amount of entrants this year too, and a very high calibre of writing was evident. This is a testament to the flourishing creativity of the county and perhaps an indication of a growing love of stories in our small part of the world!"

The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature has been running for 14 years, having been set up in 2003 by the then High Sheriff of Cheshire, John Richards.