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Michael Morpurgo supports competition for young writers - in memory of one incredible young writer

Michael Morpurgo is once again to support an annual competition run by the Jemima Layzell Trust as the Trust’s patron. This year, the competition theme draws on the Trust’s campaign to raise awareness about organ donation among children and young people.

Jemima Layzell was a young writer, who was thirteen when she tragically lost her life to a brain aneurysm. Because Jemima talked about her wishes to her family if ever anything happened to her, they knew that she'd want to donate. She saved eight lives and restored the sight of three.

The theme for young writers to explore this year is ‘New Beginnings’, which Jemima’s family hope will encourage people to focus on the possibilities that open up to those who have recently received a transplant.

Encouraging other young writers to take inspiration from Jemima is an important part of the trust’s work. Sophy Layzell, Jemima’s mother, says, “Jemima kept a diary since she was three years old and found it such a valuable way of not only documenting her life but also putting down all her changing thoughts and feelings, the thinks she couldn’t articulate verbally - it helped her work out how she felt about the world. This competition is really about encouraging other children to do the same - it can be such an important part of developing and can be a huge pleasure - both writing and reading.”

Jemima herself was a huge fan of Michael Morpurgo. on February 1st 2009 she wrote,

“Dear Diary,

At Grandma’s I had a great time. I wanted to stay up reading ‘Private Peaceful’ but I forgot my torch.”

And again, on February 8th 2009:

“Dear Diary

I’m reading a fab book by Michael Morpurgo, ‘Private Peaceful’ It’s true what they say you know, any book with the words ‘Michael Morpurgo’ are guaranteed excellent quality. Or something like that anyway. I’m a big Michael Morpurgo fan.”

When speaking about his recent knighthood, Michael Morpurgo spoke about how it gives him a platform to advance one of his main passions: "The opportunity to talk about children's literature and how really important that is to our young people growing up today.”

Six children are selected for the shortlist by the Trust’s judging panel who are made up of ex-headmasters, teachers, literary festival organisers and book lovers. Those six will receive a £10 book token sponsored by Yeovil Community Arts Association. Their entries are sent to Michael Morpurgo, who chooses the final two winners. In the past, the winners have met Mr Morpurgo locally who signs a copy of the War Horse especially for them.

The Jemima Layzell Trust want to reach a diverse and inclusive a range of children, from all backgrounds. The competition is divided into three age categories - 6-9, 10-14 and 15-18.

Entering the competition is free but if you would like to help the Jemima Layzell Trust raise money to help send children to who have had a transplant, entrants can join the Wear a Flower campaign.

Please encourage children and adults to visit the organ donation registry to sign up -

The competition closes for entries on 1st August 2018. For more information please visit

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