Virginia Warbey was a valued member of our Writers’ group, and when she died young we wanted to do something to commemorate her life. The first project was to publish a collection of her poems, Ratified, but we also wanted a longer term memorial.

Virginia’s mother, Joyce, was keen on the idea of a poetry competition and offered to provide us with the prize fund for our first year.

As a group we’d judged competitions for Winchester Writers Conference, but never organised anything on this scale.  We used our experience of other poetry competitions to draw up rules which seemed practical and sensible, and chose a closing date which didn’t clash with existing poetry prizes. Admin proved a learning curve, with group members doing what we could.

We were lucky to have been in contact with the wonderful U.A. Fanthorpe and R.V. Bailey, who replied to our tentative request about judging with a resounding ‘yes.’ We set up a PO Box, distributed leaflets and the competition was born.

Each year we’ve wondered how many entries would arrive, and no year was more tense than the first. But poems flooded in, at times by the sackload, and overjoyed us with their quality as well as quantity. We have continued to have splendid judges including Ian McMillan, Gillian Clarke, and our very first prize winner C.J.Allen. After five years, we find ourselves running an established, serious competition.

Good luck if you decide to enter!

Chandler’s Ford Writers

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