Sam, 9, beats 74,000 into short story final

Sam Holmes from Ancaster School, last 25 in national competition  333C
Sam Holmes from Ancaster School, last 25 in national competition 333C
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WHEN Sam Holmes entered a short story competition, little did he know that he would beat 74,000 entrants to make it into the final 50.

The nine-year-old, a pupil of Ancaster Primary School, is “bewildered” by having done so well in the Radio 2 500 Words competition.

Sam put a lot of time and effort into dreaming up an imaginative plot and relaying the story on paper, and he is looking forward to the final at the Hay Festival in Wales at the start of June.

Sam, of Ancaster, said: “To get this far feels brilliant!

“It was so exciting when I found out I was in the top 50, I couldn’t digest it. It’s bewildering.”

Volunteers from all over the country, from teachers to librarians, judged the 74,000 entries, picking out the very best. Then the National Literacy Trust narrowed the list down to 50 entries, 25 in the under nine category and 25 in the 10-13 category.

And now a panel of expert judges - including Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams - are pouring over the shortlisted 50 to choose a final three. Also on the panel are authors Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Lauren Child, Andy Stanton and Charlie Higson, and Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans.

Sam, his parents and younger brother Matthew will travel to Wales together.

Sam said: “It will be exciting to go to Wales and I’m looking forward to being at the Hay Festival.

“When we find out if I’m in the top three, it will be live on the radio.”

Safe as a Bankis the title of Sam’s short story. The plot delves into Sam’s dream where he is a nine-year-old criminal mastermind about to rob a bank with his mum as his side-kick.

Unsurprisingly, action and crime books are Sam’s favourite genres, and he counts Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Ryder series, as his inspiration.

Sam said: “I love reading, I’d like to write for a living.”

His dad, Kevin, added: “He bought a hardback with four Alex Ryder novels in it and within 10 days he’d read four novels.

“ He can read a Harry Potter novel in two or three nights.

“I think he’s done fabulously well, we really are absolutely overwhelmed by how well he’s done.”

Senior teacher at Ancaster Primary School, Sam Eden, said: “Sam is a gifted writer. When he brings his stories in to show me I’m gobsmacked.”

The competition winner will receive a host of prizes, including a pile of books as tall as Chris Evans.