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The annual competition, run by Portsmouth City Council, invites aspiring writers living or working in Portsmouth to submit their short story in response to a theme. This year’s theme was ‘Reunion’.

Karen Thomas wrote this year’s winning story, called ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’, about a refugee who experiences his own reunion with a family member at the emotional ending. Karen was surprised and delighted to win the competition and plans to donate her prize winnings to charity. Judges commented that the story was beautifully written and that they felt an immediate empathy with the characters.

The judges were delighted by the overall quality of entries that were received. With 49 entries, this year marked the highest number of short stories received since the competition started in 2015. The entries included stories about reunion with family, reunion with friends and reunion with one’s homeland.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture and City Development, said:

“This annual competition is a fantastic chance for budding writers to share their creative talent with the Portsmouth community. We were impressed by the quality of entries received this year around the theme ‘reunion’ which perhaps holds more meaning during these strange times when we have been distant from loved ones. Thank you to all those who have entered and congratulations to Karen for her winning story.”

This year, the Awards Night was hosted on Zoom with the seven shortlisted entrants giving readings and attended by the Lord Mayor Cllr Rob Wood.

The Portsmouth Short Story Competition is a yearly writing competition and is open to those aged 16+ who live, work or study in Portsmouth or can demonstrate a close personal connection to the city.

The competition launches each summer with the winner of the £500 prize announced at Portsmouth BookFest in February.

This annual competition has been running since 2015 with previous winners and shortlisted entries published in ‘City of Stories’, available from Portsmouth Libraries.

Portsmouth’s 10th annual BookFest is running until Sunday 7 March. For more information, visit A collection of books to celebrate BookFest is available on the library service’s digital platform