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Portsmouth youngsters are being asked to go back to nature for this year’s 500 Pompey Words competition.

The annual writing contest is asking young people to find inspiration from anything in Cumberland House Natural History Museum’s displays and bring it to life through an original story, play or poem.

There is plenty to get the creative juices flowing with the Portsmouth City Council owned museum boasting an A-Z of natural history featuring over 200 British and foreign insects, mammals, birds, fish, plants and fossils.

The annual 500 Pompey Words creative writing contest gives senior school pupils (years 7 to 11) who live in Portsmouth the chance to win up to £75 in vouchers by writing about items on display in the museum.

Cllr Ben Dowling, the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Economic Development, said: “This competition always gets a fantastic response and it’s great to see young people visiting the museums and getting really creative with how they look at things. It’s amazing how good the entries are and I can’t wait to see what we inspire this year.”

The prizes are awarded in memory of John and Ivy Guy-Hawthorne, who were both local teachers with a passion for learning and education and heavily involved in the Portsmouth Museums & Records Society.

Portsmouth-based author and illustrator Neal Layton is the competition’s judge and offered budding story tellers this advice: “Cumberland House is a fascinating place full of all sorts of natural wonders. I’m really looking forward to seeing what ideas the exhibits spark in people’s minds.”

Entries must be original work, not more than 500 words long and mention at least one of the items on display in the A-Z gallery at Cumberland House. The closing date for entries is Friday, 25 February.

For full details on entering click ‘Get Involved’ at www.portsmouthmuseum.co.uk