Healthy competition for young comedy writer

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A PUPIL at Hilden Oaks School has been selected as a finalist for BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition for her funny and highly contemporary tale about healthy eating.

Francesca Wade, aged 7, is one of 28 finalists chosen nationwide in the 5 to 9 age category for the short story competition featured on Chris Evans’ morning show.

She has been invited to Hampton Court Palace on Friday [June 8], where Mr Evans will be broadcasting live until 9.30am and The Duchess of Cornwall is presenting the prizes.

Last year’s competition attracted more than 131,000 entries. They are whittled down to 25 plus three wildcards for each age group – the other is for 10 to 13 year olds.

Francesca’s ‘Agent Ramsbottom and the Mysterious Fish and Chips’ is one of the wildcard entries. It’s a humorous account of a police force staffed by babies enforcing healthy eating on an obese society.

Agent Ramsbottom tackles a modern phenomenon when he goes ‘underground’ to investigate the cause of a fatberg, an accumulation of fatty deposits that blocks sewers.

She explained the reason for her subject, saying: ‘I wrote this story as a school half-term homework project and was inspired by Lindsey Russell’s trip to the sewers beneath London on Blue Peter.’ She is also a fan of the film Boss Baby.

Her mother Sharon is Deputy Headteacher at the school on Dry Hill Park Road. She told the Times: ‘Francesca has always loved words and stories, and her favourites are those that make her laugh.

She has a keen sense of humour and always looks to raise a smile from those around her.

‘And she has often had creative ideas for stories and has collected ideas, often mixing the normal with the absurd.’

Mrs Wade added: ‘This was an enormous challenge. It took Francesca the whole of spring half-term to complete it.

‘Her father and I are enormously proud of her, not just for her achievement but her perseverance in completing the task as she nearly gave up on several occasions.’

So does Francesca dislike junk food, like her fictional police force? ‘She usually eats healthily and she enjoys Friday’s fish and chip lunch at school. However, her favourite food is chicken pizza!’

Excerpt from story

‘FAT ALERT, FAT ALERT!!’ the warning siren screamed.

‘Sir, there is a report in that illegal substances are being sold in London – rumours are that the scent could even be the notorious fish and chips!’

Following the early deaths of grown-ups from over-eating, babies had been put in charge and strict healthy eating laws were in place.

‘Agent Ramsbottom is there, sir. A man in black tracksuit bottoms and a woman in a smock are stood over a manhole.

‘The cover is lifting. Sir, two portions of fish and chips with salt and vinegar have been smuggled away!’

PICTURE: DEVOURING BOOKS: Francesca Wade mixes the normal with the absurd

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