Scroll down to view previous competitions results from 2020

2020 Competitions

2020 Competition – Judges

Short Story Competition Judge

Jordan Lees

After graduating with an MA in Literature, Jordan joined The Blair Partnership, literary agents for many renowned authors including J.K. Rowling, in 2016 and was made an Associate Agent in 2020. His reading tastes are wide-ranging and as an agent predominantly represents literary fiction, reading group fiction and crime and thrillers, as well as some non-fiction.

Poetry Competition Judge

Lesley Saunders

Lesley Saunders is the author of several books of poetry, most recently Nominy-Dominy (Two Rivers Press 2018) - 'a feature of this collection is its sheer ease with and celebration of language itself' (Martin Malone, The Interpreter's House). Lesley was joint winner of the inaugural Manchester Poetry Prize and one of the winners of the 2017 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. In 2016, Lesley won the Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation with her English version of a poem by the acclaimed Portuguese poet Maria Teresa Horta; Lesley's latest book, Point of Honour (Two Rivers Press 2019), pays homage to the radical and erotic work of Horta - who celebrated her 82nd birthday in May 2019 - with nearly 100 translated poems. Lesley leads writing workshops and undertakes poetry mentoring; she has performed her work at festivals and on the radio, and worked on collaborative projects and productions with visual artists, musicians, composers and dancers as well as other poets - most recently with Philip Gross in A Part of the Main (Mulfran Press 2018)

Bedford Short Story Prize Judge

Neil Beardmore

In the Nineties Neil won the Sussex Playwrights Award and The Richard Burton Poetry Competition, going on later to take an MA in Creative Writing specialising in Poetry and Novel writing. Two plays Pristine in Blue and A View Of Glass Mountains were professionally performed recently and in 2017 his novel Lemon Seas was published. Neil's poems have appeared in The Cannon's Mouth, Erbacce, Dreamcatcher, The French Literary Review and many other magazines. Having had poetry published in Orbis, he has recently had a short story, Key Notes published in the magazine.

Bedford Poetry Prize Judge

Steve Kendall

Steve Kendall is a graduate of the Newcastle University / Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry. He is a co-host of the Bedford reading series 'Ouse Muse' and convenor of the North Beds and Milton Keynes Stanza. His work has most recently appeared in Strix and Magma.

Young Writers' Short Story Award Judge

Stephen Bywater

Stephen Bywater joined the merchant navy at sixteen before going on to study English at university. After graduating he taught in South and Central America for three years, returning to the UK to complete an MLitt at St Andrews. For the past twenty years he has taught English in Bedford, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of two novels, The Devil's Ark and Night of the Damned (published by Headline/Hachette), and is currently working on his third.

Young Writers' Poetry Award Judge

Cameron Stuart

Cameron Stuart is a poet originally from, and now back residing in, Bedford. He attended the Poetry MFA at Saint Mary's College of California, and has taught writing at SMC and Berkeley. He is the recipient of Judith Butler and Community of Writers scholarships.

Rainbow Short Story Prize Judge

Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell is the author of twenty-one crime novels, including the Geraldine Steel series which has sold over a million books. Shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award, long listed for the CWA Dagger in the Library, she is Chair of the CWA Debut Dagger Judges and Co-ordinator for the CWA Critiques. She was a Finalist for the People's Book Prize, and is a Royal Literary Fellow. Find out more about Leigh from her website.

2020 Short Story Competition - Shortlist

Story title Author
MangataChristopher Baker - Oxford
MongrelRobert Carter - STOCKTON NSW, Australia
Selfish Kisses and Early PolaroidsJames Woolf - London
Beaconssophie holland - Bristol
Her Unused SmileSarah Dawson - Tunbridge Wells
Silver BirdDavid Shelley Jones - SYDNEY, Australia
White AngelPaul Chiswick - Birmingham
The Life and Times of Sam the Wanderer as the End of Days ApproachesAnya Christiansen - Auckland, New Zealand
Onassis and HoxhaJuliet Hill - Madrid, Spain
TracesAmanda Hildebrandt - Caulfield North VIC, Australia
Tell us a bit about yourselfDavid Shelley Jones - SYDNEY, Australia
Broken BloodPauline (HUGHES) PLUMMER - North Shields

2020 Poetry Competition - Shortlist

Poem title Poet
Clarifying the protection of birds legislationVanessa Lampert - Wallingford
Jenny WrenBen Verinder - Tring
Lost GirlsFederica Peru - Frosinone-FR, Italy
Calling my motherAnne Casey - Northbridge, Australia
The Promised LandMaia Béar - London
if I had a lodger I could explainTamsin Hopkins - London
Toy Mouse, Discovered at Vindolanda Roman Fort, May 2020Isabella Mead - Wendover
HymnHarriet Sanders - Christchurch 8011, New Zealand
Manarola - final night - no cameraHan Smith - Bromley
Every Black History MonthWura Arisekola - Portarlington, Ireland
Passing and meetingMolly Underwood - London
A Short Film About LoveJoseph Kidney - Palo Alto, United States of America

2020 Short Story Winners

First Prize



Chris Barkley

Second Prize



Sophie Holland

Third Prize

The Life and Times of Sam the Wanderer as the End of Days Approaches


Anya Christiansen

2020 Poetry Winners

First Prize

Toy Mouse, Discovered at Vindolanda Roman Fort, May 2020


Isabella Mead

Second Prize

Passing and Meeting


Molly Underwood

Third Prize



Harriet Sanders

2020 Rainbow Prize Winners

First Prize

Memories from Muskwa Creek


Shirlee Matheson

Second Prize

A Different Version


Janet Newman

Third Prize



Norma Allen

2020 Bedford Prize winners

Short Story

Barates and My Father


Fran Maciver




Maya Abraham-Steele

2020 Young Writers - Prize winners

Short Story

Black Bin Bags


Kirsten Udall


Mi Duende Muerde


Alba Alonso

Pictures from the 2020 Awards Evening

Awards Video Credits

Complete Presentation

Bedford Poetry Prize

Young Writers' Poetry Award

Poetry Competition

Bedford Short Story Prize

Young Writers' Short Story Award

Rainbow Prize

Short Story Competition


Follow Us