YOUNG writers had to stand up to be counted when they were visited by an award-winning former pupil — Bolton comic Dave Spikey.

The multi award-winning comedian, writer and actor went back Smithills School to judge the work of pupils in a short story competition, inspired by the BBC 500 words to unleash young people's creative flair to develop a love of reading and writing among all abilities.

Dave read through his old old journals, which he wrote while a pupil at Smithills School and was said to be very impressed by the pupils' short stories.

He said: "I was never out of the library. I think it’s difficult these days. You’ve got to bear I mind all the different advances in technology and what’s online. I spent so much time in the library because we didn’t have Google. If you wanted to find something out you went to the reference library.

"I was a member of Smithills School library, the central library in Bolton and Heaton library where I spent ages. I was taking novels home and reference books to help me do my homework."

More than 30 entries were submitted, and judges shortlisted six for the award, which was presented at a special celebration evening in the library where there was standing room only as parents and pupils packed in to celebrate young people's creativity.

The winner of the competition was Katie Powell, who is in Year Eight, with a story called Hope, about friendship among refugees.

Special Merit Award went to Luke Gallagher, of Year Eight, for It was Only Just a Nightmare.

Special Library Award went to Aia Banchi, from Year Seven, with her story The Birds.

Sarah Leech, English teacher, said: "We’re so proud of all our entrants, who have not only accomplished something special, but who have worked really hard and enjoyed it.

"It was wonderful to see so many pupils along with their family members enjoying the stories, and we were honoured to have Bolton comedian and past pupil Dave Spikey judging, entertaining and presenting the awards.

"The shortlisted and winning stories are on display in Smithills School library.

"We will be producing a booklet of all the stories to share in the near future."

Young people said they enjoyed the evening.

Aaminah Vmarji said: "I learnt from this experience that you should find something that inspires you. I’ve always loved reading and reading inspires me."

Visit to read some of the writing pieces submitted and watch a video Dave Spikey being interviewed.