It is not only the writers themselves who should be lauded, but also all the teachers and parents who play such a vital role in fostering and nurturing a love of reading and writing.

As your new Patron of the Wicked Young Writers’ Award, I am delighted to be here with you all this afternoon to present the prizes to its very first winners.

I know that the judges have been hugely impressed by the very high standard of entries, and it is deeply heartening to know that young people of all ages are still enthralled by the power, elegance and beauty of the written word. I feel quite sure that amongst you all here today sits a future Michael Morpurgo, J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl.

It is not only the writers themselves who should be lauded, but also all the teachers and parents who play such a vital role in fostering and nurturing a love of reading and writing. Good prose is timeless – as a salve, an education, escape or delight – and it is unaffected by transient whims, fashions and fads. Awards such as the Wicked Young Writers celebrate literacy, and long may they flourish.

I congratulate everyone who has reached this final stage of the Award, and I hope you will all continue to put pen to paper or fingers on your keyboards and develop the talent which has brought you here. If this is a cross-section of the young writers in Britain today, then the future looks very bright indeed. You are all brilliant. Very well done indeed.