TWO sisters proved their literary talent by both winning prizes in a short story competition.

Their 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 her sister Claire Ann, 11, had clinched the title for the under-12 junior section of the competition, with her story The Eaters of the Past.

Writer Kitty Fitzgerald, who judged the competition, assured those gathered at the event, which was hosted by Shildon Town Council, that she had had no idea the two prize winners were sisters.

She said: "There are no names. The stories are numbered and we do not find out who is who until afterwards.''

Claire Ann said: "I am extremely happy, especially because Sylvia has won as well.''

Budding authors from all over the country gathered at the event, which has been held every year for the past 15 years in memory of local pitman-turned-author Sid Chaplin.

Equally thrilled to win a prize in the junior section was 13-year-old Laura Brown, from Middlestone Moor.

The Spennymoor Comprehensive School student said she had enjoyed entering the competition, but her first love was music and playing in Pittington Brass Band.

The winner of the adult competition, Cynthia Hall, travelled from her home in Oxford to receive her prize for her story, called The Courts Above.

The 55-year-old said: "It is absolutely lovely to have the opportunity to come and visit the North-East. I have really enjoyed myself.''