Jo Gatford has been named as the winner of the 2013 Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary, and will now have her first novel, Piecemeal, published by Legend Press.
The bursary was established in 2006 by Legend Press and the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund in 2006, shortly after Bitmead's death at the age of 34. His novel, White Summer, was the first to be published by Legend Press, and the bursary was created to encourage and support young unpublished writers.
As well as having her novel published in summer 2014, Gatford also receives a cheque for £2,000. Susan Luddem and Liam Brown were selected as runners-up. They were chosen from a shortlist of nine writers by a judging panel made up up of authors Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall, Bitmead's mother Elaine Hanson, and Tom Chalmers, Lucy Chamberlain and Lauren Pasrsons from Legend Press.
Chalmers, m.d. of the independent publisher, said: "Piecemeal is a poignant and engrossing novel, with great commercial potential and we very much look forward to working with Jo in the run up to publication next year. The book handles themes of dementia, coping with illness and family secrets in a beautifully sensitive and powerful way."
Hanson said: "The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund has been set up for two reasons, firstly to give support to unpublished fledgling writers, particularly those who have striven to work through the disempowering feelings of anxiety and depression. Secondly to eradicate the stigma that prevents mental health problems being discussed openly enabling support and understanding."