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Yes I know, I know – this has taken me a while to mention but I HAVE been in the middle of exam marking. Well actually I still am – but I’ve got to have a bit of fun in my life again.

The Radio 2 500WORD final took place on 29th May and it was a fantastic event. Here’s a bit about what happened.

As well as the Chris Evans Breakfast Show crew there were actors, presenters and musicians. There were also 25 of us volunteer judges. But most importantly there were 50 finalists, accompanied by just one parent (that must have been hard to choose which one – and it made me think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where those children clutching golden tickets could also only take one parent). It was the first time the Final has been held at St James’ Palace and it was a bit surreal, sitting in on a live Radio 2 broadcast from a state room.

We had to get to the Palace for 6am so there were lots of bleary eyed people when I arrived. There was a lot of excitement though and everyone had dressed up – one boy wore a top hat and carried it off brilliantly. The broadcast itself was fun and relaxed and there were lots of opportunities to wander around and talk to people. The Vamps sat just in front of me and played really well. Will Young did alright too.

The main judges – Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon – were there, looking very pleased. They’d had the task of selecting the winners, and the ones they chose were well balanced: two highly moving, two funny and two outstanding stories. The parents were so proud – one of the Dads of a finalist (Lara) cried throughout the whole broadcast! It was wonderful to see them read by well-known actors also dressed smartly – although Jeremy Irons did look very dishevelled (in a deeply cool way of course). He later told me he’d raced down from Oxford on his motorbike which I guess explains why.

Three of us volunteer judges were interviewed, including me. A fair few people have since said that they heard me which was cool. Chris mistakenly said that I’d been married for 3 years, rather than judging, which was hilarious.

We weren’t allowed to take photos in the Palace so all I have to show for it is me outside it:

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Note the Palace themed belt (very important that sort of stuff):

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But I prefer this photo which is me at a totally deserted King’s Cross waiting for the Tube to open so I could make my way there:

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I am very cross now as I could have done the Harry Potter thing, pushing the trolley through the wall – it is ALWAYS surrounded by of queue people but of course it wouldn’t have been that day. I should have thought about that!

It was wonderful to go the Final and see the finalists but anyone who submitted a story should be proud of themselves. Constructing a story in 500 words or less is a challenge and I enjoyed all 30 of the submissions that I had to mark. And that is what stories are all about – enjoyment. If you haven’t listened to the final 6 stories then I urge you to do so. You can check them out here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4McrxpBT4C7WyP30gDfVZRF/500-words-2015-the-final

And any teachers and librarians out there who were thinking of judging next year – do it. It’s lots of fun. And you may end up watching the winning entries being announced before your very eyes. In the words of all medium sized people – EPIC.

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