Author Archive

Writer of the Year 2020

16th November 2020

We had another great response to our annual Writer of the Year Competition. 53 pieces were entered this year: 29 of fiction, and 24 of poetry. The competition was judged by Claire Askew and we thank her for all her hard work in this task. Calre said: “Judging the contest was a difficult – though deeply enjoyable – task. The overall standard of entries was very high, and I was reminded of the wealth of talent that Tyne & Esk Writers has always fostered.”

You can see the list of winners on the Writer of the Year Page.


Writer of the Year Competition: WOTY 2020 Winners…


Read all the winning entries in our special edition of Scrivens.



1st – Lorna Dixon “On the Beach”

2nd – George Cunningham “The Battle O’ the Bunnet”

3rd – Billy Graham “Grains of Truth”

Highly Commended – Julia Graves “A Difficult Daughter”

Highly Commended – Moira Cormack “Leaving”



1st – Stella Hervey Birrell “I am Radical Self Care”

2nd – Mary Johnston “Tulip”

3rd – MIke Davenport “Japanese Garden”

Highly Commended – Jock Stein “Listen to the Wind”

Highly Commended – Jeff Kemp “Time-Space Continuum”

Committee Minutes – October 2020

16th November 2020

Present: Stella Hervey Birrell, Maureen Burns, Ruth Campbell, Liz Clark, George Cunningham, Mike Davenport, Lorna Dixon, Jeff Kemp, Julia Graves, Isabella Hesler, Irene Holligan, Mary Johnston, Graham Leake, Neil McGowan, Roy Moller, Jackie Muller, Jane Patmore (Convener), Philippa Ramsden, Katherine Ritchie, Jock Stein, Diana Stevens, Sheila Thacker, Brenda Thomson

Apologies:  Billy Graham

Convener’s Report:

Following positive feedback we had agreed to reappoint Margaret Skea as CWF. Unfortunately, this was overtaken by Covid19 and our inability to have group meetings in the usual way. We have postponed the appointment of a CWF in the meantime. Winter workshops were cancelled and we were unsuccessful in our bid for Scottish Book Trust funding to take one on line.

Over the past months some groups have continued to meet virtually, or to share work by email among members. However, for some members this is challenging. Coronavirus, and the restrictions it imposes, raises 3 points for consideration:

  • How do we maximise our use of technology and share our expertise, so as many people as possible can participate in a virtual way?
  • How can we best continue to include members who find technology challenging?
  • Can we use this time as an opportunity to publicise what we do and extend our membership to others in our communities who might benefit?

We also continue to research funding opportunities, and have recently had optimistic news about the co-op community fund.

The Constitution has been updated to reflect that we no longer get support through the Library Service, and the Committee is also exploring how to become a SCIO.

The Convener thanked office holders and the CWF for their support during this challenging year.

Treasurer and Membership Secretary’s Report:

Current balance is £7,575. Tyne & Esk Writers has been nominated as one of three charities to be eligible for Co-op Local Community Fund in the year Oct 20 to Oct 21.

At 31/3/20 there were 78 members, but for this year only 45 membership forms had been received. The subscription fee has been waived because of Covid19, but forms are still required – they can be found on the website, though payment still has to be made to the Treasurer rather than through the website. Group reps. are asked to ensure that everyone returns a form, although those who continue to pay by standing order can assume their membership will be counted. The Committee will consider the process for completing membership forms and paying subscriptions for future years.

The accounts had been agreed by the Committee as Trustees, but were shown to those present by screen share. In answer to questions, Diana said that our insurance does give some indemnity cover, but that a move to being a SCIO would improve this, and that while the Committee could consider changing banks to an interest-bearing account, interest rates were low and several banks had ceased offering this for Charities.

Reappointment of Office-bearers:

Convener: Jane Patmore – proposed Jock Stein, seconded Graham Leitch

Vice-convener: Neil McGowan, proposed Brenda Thomson, seconded Maureen Burns

Treasurer: Diana Stevens, proposed Brenda Thomson, seconded Liz Clark.

Scrivens:  George Cunningham was reappointed.

Port Seton Motion:  Jackie Muller, shared the experiences of the Port Seton Group. She shared how Zoom and other platforms had proved extremely helpful, and that during the period when lockdown was relaxed a blended approach had worked well. She referenced the 2014 members’ survey which had underlined the importance of social connection. It was proposed that Tyne and Esk should facilitate the use of Zoom by having a paid for account, accessible to all groups. The Committee agreed to look at this. The Committee also agreed that minutes, accounts and constitution would be available on the website.

To be considered by the Committee:

1  Membership Forms and possible Payment on line through the website

2  Changing banks for an interest-bearing account.

3  Proposal from the Port Seton Group for a central Zoom account.

The Committee and Convener were warmly thanked, and the meeting closed about 8.20pm.


The AGM was followed by the annual Writer of the Year Award, with 2020 judge Claire Askew.

Committee Minutes – October 2019

16th November 2020

Present: 21 members, Tom Murray (Writer of the Year judge) and Margaret Skea (Creative Writing Fellow)

Apologies: G. Leake, R. Davison, L. Dixon and H. Faoilean.

Welcome and appointment of Minute Secretary: (Brenda Thomson)

Previous Minutes: Taken as read.

Convener’s Report:

Thanks to the generosity of a member who wishes to remain anonymous, Tyne and Esk Writers is in a position to continue with a Creative Writing Fellow. The monies to pay for this are being spread over a 2 year period, with a reduction in hours per week from 17 to 10. Margaret Skea, a well-published writer, started this month as the Creative Writing Fellow. Margaret was welcomed.

Three Winter Writers’ Workshops took place. Russell Jones served as our Creative Writing Fellow  last year and  he was thanked for his work with us.

A new Festival went into its second year at Newbattle Abbey. Tyne and Esk was represented by Rebecca McKinney, whom we thank for her work on this.

Emma Patmore took over from Tim Mackenzie as our webmaster. They were both thanked.

As Rod Kelly was unable to continue as treasurer, Roy Moller took over the post for a short time. As he is unable to continue as treasurer, Diana Stevens has taken on the role. (The accounts were available for inspection. They have already been approved by the Committee.)

A desk and PA system were made by Graeme Leake some time ago. The desk is currently in Graeme Leake’s home and the PA system is stored in Jock Stein’s garage.

David Purdie, a long-standing member of Tyne and Esk Writers, died recently.

Thanks were given to Hannah Faoilean, one of our members, and to Jackie Stevens at Library Services for their support in running the Writer of the Year competition.

After being the Convener for two years Jock Stein stood down from the post. He is to be succeeded by Jane Patmore. Jock was thanked for all of his work by Brenda Thomson and by Jane Patmore.

Vice Convener’s Report:

Two of the winter workshops were well attended. The third workshop, which had to be postponed earlier, was less well attended.

A bid is being made to the Scottish Book Trust this year.

Fundraising will continue.


Treasurer’s Report:

£11 470 is the current balance in our account. There are 56 paid-up members.

Scriven’s Report: While blander in presentation, it is fit for purpose. George Cunningham will continue in post.

Appointment of Office-Bearers:

Convener  – Jane Patmore (proposed by Jock Stein and seconded by Stella Birrell)

Vice Convener –  Neil McGowan (proposed by Jock Stein and seconded by Julia Graves)

Treasurer – Diana Stevens (proposed by Jock Stein and seconded by Jane Patmore)

The meeting closed with an invitation for refreshments prior to the Writer of the Year competition’s awards ceremony.

(Brenda Thomson)



Committee Minutes – October 2018

16th November 2020

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting for the year April 2017 – March 2018, held in the Dalkeith Arts Centre, 2 White Hart Street, Dalkeith EH22 1AE on Monday 1st October 2018.

Welcome:  Twenty-two members were present and welcomed by the Convener Jock Stein.

Apologies:  Rod Kelly, Graham Leake, Roy Moller, Eric Platten, Diana Steven, Sheila Thatcher.

Convener’s Report:  Thanks to funding by the Seedbed Trust, Tyne and Esk has been able to keep the services of a Creative Writing Fellow. Russell Jones will take up this post on 18 October.  The dynamic of Tyne and Esk Writers lies in the groups and it remains essential that they recruit more members with personal contacts remaining a very good method.  Two Winter Writers’ Workshops were held during the year with financial assistance from the Scottish Book Trust and it is hoped that this funding may also be available next year (2019). Rod Kelly, our new treasurer prepared the accounts which had now been approved by the Management Committee, acting as Tyne and Esk Trustees for the year to April 2018. Copies were tabled for members’ perusal.  In conclusion the Convener noted the retirement from the Management Committee of former Convener Brenda Thomson and Eric Platten, the representative from Penicuik, who were thanked for their contribution over the years, along with former Webmaster Tim Mackenzie. Mr Platten will be succeeded by Hannah Faoilean as the representative for Penicuik.

Vice Convener’s Report:  The need for constant fundraising was emphasised as there was a need to raise money for usual expenses such as insurance as well as funding the Creative Writing Fellow and WOTY.  The use of Amazon Smile when purchasing personal goods, ensures a small percent is paid to Tyne and Esk as a registered charity.  Similar benefits from other stores such as Tesco and M&S are being examined.  The need for new members was highlighted as this too increased the income for Tyne and Esk. A revised members’ survey seeking information and some personal and demographic details is underway and this information enables an accurate profile can be used to support applications for grants.  The Vice Convener emphasised that it would be extremely helpful if members could also add a short note on what they personally get from Tyne and Esk membership.

Appointment of office bearers:  Jock Stein was appointed unopposed as Convener for the coming year and likewise Jane Patmore was elected Vice Convener. In absentia Dr Rod Kelly was returned as Treasurer and Roy Moller as the Membership Secretary.

Appointment of Creative Writing Fellow:  Russell Jones, who had undertaken one of the two Writers’ Winter Workshops has been appointed Creative Writing Fellow. He will take up post on 12 October 2018. Catherine Simpson, who has retired as the CWF was thanked for her generous contribution of time to the groups and to individual members.

Scrivens:  George Cunningham remains as the current Editor.  The aim is to produce another issue at the end of October.  To this end members should send him contributions by mid-October  Prose should be limited to 750 words and poetry to a maximum of 36 lines.  Please type contributions in 12-point Times New Roman and double space.

Website:  We welcome Emma Patmore as the new Webmaster, and any group representatives who want to update information should do this now.

Growing the Business – new ideas:  Members present acknowledge the need to increase Tyne and Esk membership.  Ideas floated included a new publicity leaflet and the need for media expose in the local press.  However, it was acknowledged that word of mouth is still the best recruitment method.

Close:  There being no other competent business, the meeting closed at 7.30 pm followed by the Writer of the Year Awards, 2018.

How Coronavirus is impacting Tyne & Esk Writers

16th November 2020

How Coronavirus is impacting Tyne & Esk Writers

Since March 2020 it has not been possible for our writers’ groups to meet in our usual locations. Groups have adapted to this in a variety of ways organising virtual meetings using zoom or other technology, emailing work to group members, or meeting in smaller groups (when this has been possible).


However, we also know that it has not been easy for many of our members to join in over recent months. Some spent all day at work in virtual meetings and cannot face more of the same in the writing group, some people are uncomfortable with technology either because of its security risk or for other reasons, and some people do not have the computer or phone equipment which enables them to take part. On top of that, many people have felt affected by the changes and uncertainty and have struggled to engage with their writing.


All in all, it has been a challenging period.


It looks almost certain that we will be restricted in how we can meet for a time to come and there are 3 priorities for us during 2020 and 2021:

  • – How do we maximise our use of technology and share our expertise, so as many people as possible can participate in a virtual way?
  • – How can we best continue to include members who find technology challenging?
  • – Can we use this time as an opportunity to publicise what we do and extend our membership to others in our communities who might benefit?


If you would like to join us, please make contact with any of the group representatives and they will be able to tell you what is happening in your local group, or how you might join with another group.

Scrivens Spring 2020

11th March 2020

New Scrivens Spring 2020 edition out now!

Writer of the Year 2019

17th November 2019

The winners of our 2019  WOTY were as follows:


Prose 1st place (and overall Writer of the Year) – The Function Room by Julia Carmen
Prose 2nd place – Lest We Forget by Billy Graham
Prose 3rd place – Spring Fantasy by Isla Aitken
Prose commended – Joanne by Brenda Thomson


Poetry – 1st place – Werds for Month0Mye by Mary Johnstone
Poetry – 2nd place – The Pencaitland Hoopoe by Stella Hervey Birrell
Poetry – 3rd place – A Postponement by Mike Davenport
Poetry – commended – Bird Room, Floors Castle by Mike Davenport

New Creative Writing Fellow Appointed

17th November 2019

New Creative Writing Fellow Appointed

We are delighted to announce that we have selected Margaret Skea as our new Creative Writing Fellow. Margaret grew up in Ulster and lives in the Scottish Borders. She is a Hawthornden Fellow, prize-winning historical novelist and short story writer.


Margaret will visit each of our groups approximately once a month and will also review and critique individual pieces of writing.


Find out more about Margaret on her website.

Writer of the Year 2019

17th November 2019

Writer of the Year 2019

We had an amazing response to our annual Writer of the Year Competition with 43 entries – 22 for poetry and 21 for prose. The submissions were judged by Tom Murray and we thank him for all his hard work in this task. You can see the list of winners and read their writing on the Writer of the Year Page.

New Convener Appointed

16th November 2019

New Convener Appointed

At our AGM Jane Patmore was elected as Convenor. We thank Jock Stein for all his hard work over recent years and look forward to his continued input, particularly as a member of the Poetry group in Haddington.