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The winners of a nationwide story competition for schoolchildren were announced yesterday at a special event in Cardiff, as part of this year's Libraries Week celebrations.


Children from across Wales took part in the competition, that was launched by Welsh Libraries in collaboration with Alzheimer's Society during Dementia Action Week in May, to pen a short story on the theme of memories in no more than 480 words, 480 being the number of people being diagnosed dementia each day in the UK.


Eight-year-old Ava Gillespie from Cardiff, who attends St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School, was the overall winner of the competition for her story ‘The Unforgettable Trip' about an outing to Barry Island with her Nanna Pip, who is living with dementia.


Ava was presented with a £50 voucher and her school will receive 480 new books for their library. 


James Miles, aged 10, from Y Bont Faen Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan was one  runner-up in the competition for his story ‘Buckets and Spades' while 16-year-old Lilly Pattinson from Ysgol John Bright  in Conwy was another runner up with her story based on the memories of an old man.


All three of the young writers attended the special award ceremony at St Fagans National Museum of History where they read their stories to an audience including Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Susan Elsmore, Welsh GovernmentDeputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas AM, and pupils of St Joseph's Primary School.


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Cllr Susan Elsmore said: "We have been extremely impressed by the standard of entries from children all over Wales in the competition and it was wonderful to hear Ava, James and Lilly read their stories so beautifully to us.


"With 480 people being diagnosed each day in the UK, it's important that we all understand more about dementia and do whatever we can to be supportive of people living with dementia and their families. Those families will often include children and young people of course, and it can be difficult for young people to understand how dementia may affect their relative's memory or change their behaviour.


"I think the stories we have heard today display a very mature understanding, with a positive focus on the fact that many people with dementia live well and are able to continue to enjoy quality time with their families, just like some of the precious memories the children have written about.


"Well done to everyone who took part in the competition and special congratulations to Ava, James and Lilly."


Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said; "Congratulations to the winners and well-done to all who took part in this excellent competition. I'm delighted that we've been able to announce the winners of the competition during Libraries Week. I know that libraries play a huge role in providing help and advice with health and wellbeing. Libraries are the ideal spaces in the heart of the community to provide help to people suffering from dementia and their carers. I'm sure that everyone has learnt a lot about dementia as a result of this competition and I encourage you to keep writing stories and to share your memories."



Country Director at Alzheimer's Society Cymru, Sue Phelps, said: "Alzheimer's Society is delighted to have been involved in the story competition and capturing the thoughts and experiences of our young people in Wales - it is so important that we reach out to the next generation and encourage them to speak about dementia so that we can continue to break down the myths, fear and stigma that still remains."