TALENTED young wordsmiths got to meet a leading book illustrator and one of the country's most loved authors when they were announced as the winners of a writing competition.

Three proud winners of a writing contest held by The Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, were given signed books by the illustrator Nick Sharratt– who has illustrated his own books and those by authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and Jeremy Strong– in front of the second Children’s Laureate Anne Fine, who lives in Teesdale and writes for children and adults.

Bethany Pallister won the ten to 11 age group, Martha Harrodine won the seven to nine-year-old age group and Jack Connor was the winner in the under six category.

The runners up were Esther Wallace, Archie Connor and Arthur Young.

The children had written stories about The Alien Beach Party exhibition which was created by the Museum’s GeTINvolved group and featured some weird and wonderful creatures that were inspired by both the Bowes' collections and Nick Sharratt’s books.

On the day of the prize-giving, Mr Sharratt was at the museum to open his exhibition Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants which runs until November 3.

Visitors to his exhibition will learn about his childhood, what inspired him to become an illustrator and meet a host of characters he has created including Tracy Beaker, Daisy, Hetty Feather and Pirate Pete.