Our Reader for July-August (open theme)

Our open-theme competition attracted more entries than normal, and our Reader, Kathryn Wills, enjoyed looking through all of them in September.

Kathryn is a member of Didcot Writers who has just completed a PhD in Literature and Theoloy. In her spare time, she writes poetry and short stories and creates clay sculptures.

To read the pieces Kathryn chose as winners, Follow our site to receive them direct to your inbox as they are published! New posts come out on Mondays.

If you would like to be Reader in a future month, get in touch at didcotwriters@gmail.com to tell us a little about yourself and to let us know why you’re interested.

Our Reader for May-June (Stranger)

Our Reader for our ‘Stranger’ competition was Hannah Oliver, who we’ve enjoyed getting to know over the summer at our virtual ‘Shut Up and Write’ sessions.


Hannah Oliver is a writer and filmmaker who won the Didcot Writers’ Competition in February 2020. Her writing’s been longlisted for The Guardian & 4th Estate, and can be found in such places as Lemon Curd Magazine, The Quaranzine and Wastepaper.

Thank you to Hannah who read all the entries and made her selection so efficiently! If you would be interested in being Reader in a future competition, please email didcotwriters@gmail.com to let us know a little more about yourself.

Our Reader for March-April (Fundamental Change)

Our Reader for this competition is a regular participant at Didcot Writers:


Dr Zoe Chater is a physics teacher and developingwriter. She writes poems and short stories and is working on a novel (slowly). She loves literary fiction and poetry with themes of science, loss and magical realism. She is on Twitter and Instagram @NervousNeutrino

This competition was a little different to normal. Rather than a straightforward word prompt, we asked authors to start with an interesting premise, where there was ‘a fundamental change’ – either to the setting, to their characters’ lives, or maybe even in the writer’s choice of point of view or their style of writing.

We came up with this theme long before all our lives were fundamentally changed by coronavirus, though the competition submission window came at the height of lockdown – so our Reader was blown away by the wide variety of subjects and ‘changes’ entrants wrote about. We hope you enjoy them!

Our Reader for Jan-Feb (cloud)

This being the first of our two-month-long competitions, and being the first after New Year, we had SEVENTY-FIVE entries, which is more than ever before! Our Reader took this in his stride, and read all of them – though he had the option to share the job with someone else: we are very grateful for the time he gave us. (So far for our current theme ‘a fundamental change’, we’ve only had three entries. Clearly you’ve all had other more urgent things on your mind….)

Here’s a little more about our Reader, a member of Didcot Writers, David Hawkins.

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My name is David and I’m a Welshman living in Didcot.
I enjoy reading a lot, and I’m so happy Waterstones has decided to come to town.
I’m married to Sue and have two fully grown sons.
I enjoy the music of Kate Bush and Leonard Cohen.
I take size 10 shoes.
I have absolutely no qualification to judge writing competitions, so if I didn’t mention your piece, please don’t feel bad about it. I enjoyed reading them all.

The winning piece and six Reader’s Choice pieces will be published on this site on Mondays for the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy them!

Our Reader for December (leap year):

Thanks to our Reader for judging our December competition – with an extra day this weekend, why not use the time to enter our current competition? You have until midnight on the 29th to write an entry on the theme of ‘cloud’, or check out didcotwriters.wordpress.com on 1st March for our new theme.

Alex Phuong headshot.jpgAlex Andy Phuong graduated from California State University-Los Angeles with his Bachelor of Arts in English in 2015.  He currently writes film reviews voluntarily and passionately, and the link to his profile is at  https://movieboozer.com/author/alex-phuong.

If you would be interested in judging our competition in future, get in touch at didcotwriters@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself.

Our Reader for November (shiver)

Our Reader back in November, for our ‘shiver’ theme, was Patricia McBride. Thank you to Patricia for reading all our entries so speedily, and picking her favourites.

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Patricia McBride is the author of several self-help books and training manuals. She is also the author of four fiction books including a trilogy set in World War Two. She is currently writing a witch mystery. Her favourite author at the moment is John Boyne. Her facebook page is at https://bit.ly/2DHc43o

If you would be interested in judging our competition in 2020, email didcotwriters@gmail.com and let us know a bit about yourself and your writing experience.

Our Reader for October (sugar rush)

Our Reader in October was Dreena Collins. Dreena got in touch with us early in 2019, and had to wait until Autumn to judge our competition because we had so many people wanting to be Reader for us! If you’d like a turn, email didcotwriters@gmail.com and we’ll let you know when the next slot is.

Thanks to Dreena, who read through all the entries within a day of receiving them! The winning pieces, and Dreena’s reasons for her choices, will be published on this site on Mondays and Fridays for the next couple of weeks. Follow the site to receive them direct to your inbox. And don’t forget to enter our current competition if you want a chance at seeing your work published next month!

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Dreena Collins was born in Jersey, where she works in Education. She has been shortlisted and long-listed in a number of writing competitions, including the Bath Flash Fiction Awards, and the Bridport Prize. Dreena’s work has appeared in anthologies, magazines and on-line, and she has two published short story collections. Her hobbies include eating spicy food, unintentionally waking at 4.30 am, and falling over. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Our Reader for September

Our September competition, themed ‘buzz’ (do you remember how the wasps got about in the summer?) was Kevin Neill.

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A retired public health officer and former military, my own writing experience includes a new novel that I’m putting the finishing touches on, as well as a number of short stories and flash fiction. And we cannot forget the first novel that I literally put a match to. Most of my stories center on the Middle East where I was a military peacekeeper, and in the UK, where I lived for quite some time in Sheffield and North Devon. I’m delighted to be a part of this writing community.

Thanks to Kevin for his efficient reading of all the entries. You can read what Kevin thought of each of his chosen winners as the pieces are published on Mondays and Fridays.

If you’d like to be Reader in another month, get in touch at didcotwriters@gmail.com and tell us a bit about yourself.


Our Reader for May

Some of you will recognise our Reader for May as Katherine Meehan, who MC’d at our springtime-themed poetry open mic on 1st May in Didcot. Thank you to her for spending the time reading this month’s entries.

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Katherine Meehan lives in South Oxfordshire and spends her free time reading books about time and how to survive in the wilderness. She’s had several short stories published in in the States and she’s currently studying for an Mst in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. You can find her on Twitter @kmeehan.

If you’d like to be our Reader in a future month please email Alice via didcotwriters@gmail.com and tell us a bit about your writing experience and why you’d like to be involved.

Our Reader for April

For our April theme, All About Me, our Reader was Rachel Waters – this post is all about her!

Like all the Readers this year, Rachel returned her choices in record-breaking time! Thank you for her time reading and considering each piece in this month’s competition.

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Rachel Waters read English Language and Literature at The University of Manchester and now enjoys writing poems and stories in her spare time. She is a member of a local book group. She works at an after school club. She is married to artist, Grant Waters, and they have two children.

If you would be interested in being a Reader in another month (you don’t have to be a part of Didcot Writers), email Alice at didcotwriters@gmail.com to say why you’d be interested.