TWO young sisters proved their literary talent after both of them won prizes in a short story competition.

There were gasps of delight when people realised that Sylvia and Claire Ann Wilkinson, from Mickleton, in Teesdale, were sisters.

Nine-year-old Sylvia was thrilled when it was announced that she had won the under ten junior section of the Sid Chaplin Short Story Competition with her tale The Unicorn Raiders.

The youngster's delight was complete when it was revealed shortly afterwards that Claire Ann had clinched the title for the under 12 junior section with her story, The Eaters of the Past.

Writer Kitty Fitzgerald, who judged the competition assured those gathered at the event, hosted by Shildon Town Council, that she had had no idea the two were sisters. She said: "There are no names. The stories are numbered and we do not find out who is who until afterwards.''

When the excitement died down, Claire Ann, who is 11, said: "I am extremely happy, especially because Sylvia has won as well.''

Budding authors from all over the country attended the event, which has been held every year for the past 15 years in memory of the pitman author.

Spennymoor comprehensive school student Laura Brown, aged 13, from Middlestone Moor also won a prize in the junior section.

Laura said she had enjoyed entering the competition but her first love was music and playing in Pittington Brass Band.

The winner of the adults competition, Cynthia Hall, travelled from Oxford to receive her prize after writing The Courts Above.