Video: Simon Mayo is special guest at Doncaster book awards

Hundreds of Doncaster schoolchildren were flocking to buy books after the finale of the Doncaster Book Awards.

Top radio DJ Simon Mayo – one of last year’s winners – was the special guest at yesterday’s ceremony, at CAST on Waterdale.

Simon Mayo at Doncaster Book Awards

Simon Mayo at Doncaster Book Awards

Lesley Hurworth, one of the organisers and the chairman of the awards committee, said: “It was a fantastic day.

“The awards are run by volunteers. There are five of us who work on the committee and we all have full-time jobs so all this needs to be organised in our spare time.

“We are committed to raising the profile of books and literacy and it makes all our hard work worth while when you see the children enjoying themselves and being enthusiastic about books.”

This year’s winner in the classic category was War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.

In the secondary section, Matt Haig’s Echo Boy was crowned champion, with Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse the winner in the primary category.

About 580 children from more than 70 primary and secondary schools across the borough, along with Coun Pat Haith, Doncaster civic mayor, attended the event.

BBC Radio Two presenter Simon took time out of his hectic schedule to attend the two-hour event and sign copies of his books. Lesley said: “I received an e-mail afterward from Simon, which said it was one of the best awards he has ever been to.

“I have never seen so many children queuing up to buy a book before and you could have heard a pin drop when he was talking, even though he was talking about science, which is not typically a child’s favourite subject.

“People say children do not read, but they do in Doncaster. Yesterday was proof of that.”

The theme of this year’s awards – the 11th time they have been held – was discover Doncaster, inspired by the book of the same name written by committee member Phil Sheppard.

Events leading up to the event reflected the theme and included theatre workshops from Talegate Theatre.

Members of the theatre group visited children in 14 schools, who then each performed part of the book live.

Committee members have already started looking ahead to next year’s finale, which will have an Olympics theme.

The awards are funded entirely by donations, and this year the committee received an anonymous £10,000 donation which will enable them to run the event again next year.

n For more information, visit Doncaster Book Award