Book Award ceremony held at Concord

Thursday May 23, 2019

An author who attended the first-ever Shropshire Teen Book Award at Concord was both surprised and thrilled to be declared joint runner-up. Elizabeth Laird was present at Concord to hear the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Phil Gillam announce that her book ‘Welcome to Nowhere’ had tied for the silver medal with Matt Haig’s ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’. The winner of the gold medal was Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Private Peaceful’ which gained the most votes from students of 11 county-wide secondary schools, including Concord College, who were involved in the award. As she afterwards signed copies of her book, Elizabeth Laird said she was delighted ‘Welcome to Nowhere’ had achieved such recognition amongst Years 7, 8 and 9 and Concord’s form 3 and 4 (Years 9 and 10). She had earlier told students: “Read books. Read anything. Read everything. Live. Get out there. Have adventures. Social media is rubbish – it teaches you nothing about real life. “There’s a huge world for you to discover,” said Elizabeth, 75, who added that she had met her husband on a plane to India. Mrs Pam Parish, Concord’s assistant librarian, told Concord’s packed theatre that the three authors in attendance, Elizabeth, Sita Brahmachari and Beverley Naidoo, had ‘really inspired’ everyone by sharing their stories and experiences and what made them tick. “You have given us a great deal to think about and a great deal of encouragement to delve further into your books. This has been a tremendous occasion.” She said students from the 11 schools had read the books of six authors either in class and curriculum or in their spare time. They had then voted on the best selections. “The award helps bridge the gap between primary and secondary school learning and enhances reading for pleasure. All the books selected are designed to encourage empathy in the readers. “They can read about children’s different life experiences through different scenarios in the books – students can explore reading and develop their emotional wellbeing as well as that of others.” The Teen Book Award was organised through a long working relationship between Concord and the Shropshire School Library Service. Both Mrs Parish and Mrs Donna Taylor of Shropshire School Library Service said there was potential for similar awards projects in the future or even for this award to be an annual event. “There have already been inquiries from other schools in the county and surrounding areas about whether they can be involved now or in the future,” they added. In declaring the gold and silver medal winners, the Mayor – for whom this was his first engagement - told the authors: “I am a big fan and I am going to read all your books.” Together with Concord, schools attending the event were Adcote School, Belvidere School, Bridgnorth Endowed School, Corbet School, Lakelands Academy, Meole Brace School, Moreton Hall School, Oswestry School, Thomas Adams School and William Brookes School.