Hotel comp the write stuff for young West Highland authors

Magic: Young author Aaron from Oban celebrates being a finalist in the Crieff Hotels short story competition.

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Two budding young authors from Oban have been shortlisted in a creative writing competition.

Aaron, aged six, and Alasdair, aged nine, both penned short stories for the competition run by one of Scotland’s leading hotel groups, the Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels.

Aaron and Alasdair made the final shortlist of only 30 stories with their tales about Hydro the Dragon and The Crieff Spaceship.

Also in the top 30 was Grace, aged eight, of Fort William, for her story called Mice in the Hotel.

All three stories will now feature in its specially-designed bedtime storybook at the company’s eight hotels across Scotland which in the West Highlands include the Ballachullish Hotel, the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, and Kingshouse Hotel.

The Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels launched the competition for National Storytelling Week in February.

It attracted international interest with more than 300 entries from Scotland, England, Wales and even America.

The panel of independent judges were John Bray, Helen Grant and Susy McPhee, selected with help from Strathearn Arts.

They will each pick three overall winners who will also have their stories fully brought to life in illustration for the limited edition book.

The artists who will each illustrate a winning story are Charlotte Brayley, Dylan Gibson and The Grey Earl.

Susy McPhee, a judge and author, said: ‘Reading these stories was an absolute joy but it was also extremely difficult to narrow down the shortlist.

‘I wish it had been possible for all the stories to win. Many of the entrants have a clear talent for creative writing – such vivid imaginations – and I hope they all keep it up.’

Work will begin shortly to create the book and if restrictions allow, shortlisted entries including Aaron and Alasdair, will be welcomed to a Mini Book Festival at Crieff Hydro Hotel in July.

Nic Oldham, head of customer and commercial at Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, said: ‘We were thrilled to receive hundreds of competition entries that spread across the country and even overseas covering a wide array of subjects.

‘There was everything from heart-warming tales to action adventures with mythical creatures and they certainly made the job difficult for our judges.

‘We can’t wait to welcome the shortlisted entries to Crieff Hydro in July, if restrictions allow, to enjoy some family fun at our book festival and to be presented with their own copy of the limited edition story book.

‘Thank you again to all of the entries and congratulations to our shortlist.’

Alasdair, from Oban, a finalist with his short story called The Crieff Spaceship
Finalist: Grace, aged eight, from Fort William, also made the top 30 finalists.