AN optometrist has launched a writing competition for youngsters, inviting them to highlight random acts of kindness.

Simon Berry, who has a practice in Gilesgate, Durham, said: "We started a short story competition for the local schools in Durham last year when all the stories were about eyes and glasses.

"Slightly depressingly, in 40 per cent of the stories the children talked about people with glasses being bullied. This has inspired the subject of this year’s – random acts of kindness.

"With children having to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis, it will give them something to do.

"I am particularly keen that children write the stories in their own voice and we are looking for originality and great story telling.

"It is aimed at children in Durham, but I have had Facebook inquiries from elsewhere in the country, so we don't want to limit it."

He added: "From the entries last year we self-published and launched a book which is still available on Amazon and at Durham Waterstones.

"We raised £2,500 from the sale of the book for Grace House short break and respite and sales are still continuing.

"I was really pleased that we had many entries from pupils who have learning disabilities and even a story that was written to be signed in Makaton."

The winning entry will again be illustrated and brought to life by Tim Cole.

There are there three categories to win prizes. In the main category stories can be up to 2,020 words.

Stories should be fictional. The story should revolve around a random act of kindness. They can be funny, scary, sad, thrilling, exciting.

The social media category: Random Posts of Kindness #RPK, children are invited to write a short story that can fit into a social media post.Stories for this category should be less than 100 words.

The final category is also the "entry fee" with all entrants asked to complete their own random act of kindness and write about it and attach it to the submission.

The most original acts will be printed and the one that has the most impact will win this final category.

Send entries by April 30 to or post to The Gilesgate Story Challenge at Simon Berry Optometrist,

The Jam Pot, 41 Marshall Terrace, Gilesgate, Durham, DH1 2HX.

For more information visit