The Duchess of Cornwall has helped bring a bit of magic to the BBC's annual short story competition for children. In honour of the launch of this year's 500 Words, a short animation has been released showing Prince Charles' wife as a fairy godmother who encourages a little boy to jump inside his imagination – a world of pirate ships, dragons, giants and gingerbread men – and be inspired to put pen to paper.
The Duchess of Cornwall is a passionate advocate for children's literacy
This is the seventh year of the 500 Words initiative, created by Radio 2 host Chris Evans, which encourages children around the country to get creative and send in their stories of no more than 500 words. It has proved hugely popular, with more than 123,000 entries last year. The closing date for this year’s competition is 7pm on 23 February, with the live final taking place on 16 June.
The Duchess is once again returning as an honorary judge, joining the panel which consists of Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman, screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce, actor and writer Charlie Higson, and Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. They will award gold, silver and bronze winners in each of the two age categories – five to nine, and ten to 13.
The final will take place at the Tower of London and broadcast live on BBC Radio 2. The winning entries will be announced and read out by celebrity guests, known as 'superstar narrators'. Previous readers of the winning stories include Julie Walters, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Lewis Carnie, acting controller of BBC Radio 2, said: "We're very excited to welcome back Radio 2's 500 Words competition for the seventh year. From 30,000 entries when it first launched in 2011 to over 123,000 in 2016, I'm so proud that Radio 2 is able to inspire so many children to get involved, writing their fabulous stories."