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DAN MOONEY  
WITH HIS ASTOUNDING BOOK
ME MYSELF AND THEM
IS THE WINNER OF THE 9th LUKE BITMEAD WRITER’S BURSARY 2016

 

 

We are delighted to have received these reflections from our superb 9th Bursary Winner
DAN MOONEY

 

In many ways I can't believe it's two weeks since the Award Night. Everything has changed for me. Publishing a book has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I've worked hard at it pretty much all of my adult life, so to have it come true for me so unexpectedly has been amazing. Occasionally daunting, but mostly amazing. 
I was aware of several of the writers on the shortlist prior to the big night, and being aware of them, and their work, I thought I stood little chance. When the top three were being called I thought; wow, you've made it to the top three. Didn't even expect to be shortlisted, but somehow in the top three. When Glenn's name was read out in second I started to wonder if there hadn't been a mistake... No one has called my name and there's only one name left on the list. Complete shock.
I've been doing interviews and signing contracts and been patted on the back by all of my friends and family here and home and in all the conversations Luke's name and your name dominate. As a self-published writer, getting your name out into the world is one of the jobs you just have to do, and so you enter competitions and you submit your work here and there and you hope that someone will notice you. This was very different to that hum-drum process. As one of my best friends put it in conversation, this award has a soul, it has a history that you want to be connected to. It's Luke's history and your fight afterwards. To say that I'm honoured by it is an understatement. 
And so I'm trying to prove myself worthy of the award, and the connection to both of your names. I'm working on more stories, and writing every day to make this the start of something important for me.

 

 

Dan Mooney

 

Lauren Parons, Editorial Director of Legend Press gave this comment on Dan's Book:
We all found Dan’s novel to be ultimately captivating. The plot is unlike anything we’ve ever read before with a wonderful sense of foreboding. Dan creates a truly memorable character in Denis, with a thought-provoking storyline. We are thrilled to add this title to our list and publishing this fantastic debut novel in June 2017.

 

Our talented finalists

 

 

Glen James Brown, Beyond Ironopolis

 

 

Patricia Holland, Lochwall
 

 

 

Kriss Nichol, Monsoons and Marigolds
 

 

 

Eva Sandoval, The Revision of Eleanor Reddy
 

 

 

Gráinne Murphy, Where The Edge Is
 

 

 

Heather Collins, Inside
 

 

 

Fiona O’Connor, The Group

 

 

Maria Stephenson, The Man Behind Closed Doors

 

LUKE REMEMBERED WITH LOVE AND PRIDE

 

On the 27th October 2016 it will be ten years since Luke’s tragic and untimely death.   On the 28th October we will present the 9th LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS’ BURSARY.   

We are greatly looking forward to meeting this year’s finalists and sharing a vibrant evening with them and some of the generous supporters of Luke’s Memorial Fund who will be with us.

 

Luke, we will always miss you and thank you for leaving us your inspiring idea that we have taken forward with Legend Press, enabling us to encourage other fledgling writers who needed support.

 

We do hope you will be able to join us

 

 

The 2016 Luke Bitmead Bursary
 

 

The 10 shortlisted authors are:

Gráinne Murphy, Where The Edge Is
Maria Stephenson, The Man Behind Closed Doors
Niki Mackay, The Golden Cage
Eva Sandoval, The Revision of Eleanor Reddy
Heather Collins, Inside
Dan Mooney, Me, Myself and Them
Kriss Nichol, Monsoons and Marigolds
Patricia Holland, Lochwall
Fiona O’Connor, The Group
Glen James Brown, Beyond Ironopolis 

 

SEPTEMBER

 

It has been an exhilarating time reading the entries for Luke’s Bursary.  

Tomorrow the ten finalists will be announced.   These ten books have already been sent to our judging panel to read and later this month we will meet to discuss and evaluate these very praiseworthy finalist’s personal statements along with their novels.

Thank you to all the people who entered from many different countries. And please know that it is a privilege to read your work that clearly demonstrates how much talent there is in the world.

 

 

AUGUST

 

We are reaching the end of August and it has been an exciting month.   Legend Press are reading the hundreds of entries that have been received from many parts of the world.   It is thrilling to know many more people from different countries have heard about Luke’s Bursary and have felt inspired to send their novels for inclusion in this year’s competition.   It seems that we will have a challenging time ahead deciding on our finalists.

 

The judging panel will be meeting in October, when the reading is completed, to share some vigorous debate and decide on this year’s winner.   It will be our 9th Luke Bitmead Award Night and we feel sure we will have another wonderfully dynamic evening with past winners and our amazing supporters joining us to celebrate discovering another fledgling writer.

Thank you very much to all the people who have sent in submissions.

 

 

JULY

 

ENTRIES FOR THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS’ BURSARY HAVE CLOSED

 

It is riveting to hear from Legend Press that we are receiving entries from many different parts of the world.   As Luke’s Mother, I am very aware how Luke enjoyed travelling and meeting people regardless of their colour or creed.   It is captivating that Luke’s philosophy; everyone deserves respect and to be given a chance in life, is being continued in the way we are developing the Bursary welcoming all submissions, abiding by the rules of course!

Last year’s winner Lyn Farrell with her book The Wacky Man is demonstrating in many delightful ways what generosity of spirit really means.   Lyn has many reasons as to why she might have decided to become a recluse and avoid relationships with people but no, she has embraced the challenges that life has thrown at her and is developing her talents not only as a writer but as a singer as well.   Her book The Wacky Man is available on Amazon, buy a copy and see what you think!   For me reading it has changed me forever.   It demonstrates how indomitable the human spirit can be.   Lyn is also proving to be a genuine ambassador for Luke’s Bursary and I am proud to be beginning to know her as a friend.

 

 

Lyn G Farrell

 

 

ROYAL VALIDATION

 

During May we have had a week when the focus was on Mental Health and our young royals The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plus Prince Harry launched,   HEADS TOGETHER.  They showed how passionate they are to give their energy and enthusiasm to increasing understanding of mental health issues.

Bryony Gordon who I have been in email contact with for a while is a brilliant journalist who writes for the Daily Telegraph, she also suffers from depression, she was at the launch.   A quote from her article said “It felt as if finally we were on the way to conquering one of the most insurmountable challenges of all, breaking through the stigma surrounding mental health.”

 

Bryony Gordon

 

For all of you who have supported Luke’s Memorial Fund you will know this is exactly what we also have tried to reduce by talking about Luke’s unnecessary death.  I know mental health issues can destroy lives, as it did Luke’s  and three other members of his paternal family.

Now awareness is growing  please will you donate to Luke’s Fund this year so we can continue to give a Bursary and by doing that have the opportunity to keep developing understanding and treatment so lives can be saved.

 

Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund,  Sort code 40-05-26 A/c No 71543547

 

Another quote from Bryony “If three of the most famous people on the planet are now talking openly about the ‘shameful’ subjects of depression, anxiety and other disorders of the mind, then it can’t be long before everyone is.”

 

THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITER’s BURSARY

We know Legend Press have already received entries for Luke’s Bursary.

Lauren Parsons the Editorial Director sent us this quote:

 

We are thrilled that now in its ninth year running, the award continues to attract fantastic writing from all corners of the world. We look forward to reading all of the submissions and awarding another talented debut to our Bursary alumni.

 

The 13th May is Luke’s Birthday.

 

 

Already this May we have opened for entries for THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITER’S and we have launched THE WACKY MAN written by LYN G. FARRELL a book we feel proud to have published.

   Luke’s idea to give a Bursary has given us a wonderfully positive way to remember him and has also given us the opportunity to meet some excitingly talented people including not only writers but film makers as well.   Jannik Schmoller has become a very special friend who has filmed our Bursary Award Night for the last three years and brings his special sensitive qualities, embracing what we are doing to honour Luke that means we will always have a film to remind us of what we have all achieved.

Thank you to everyone that knew Luke and continue to support his Memorial Fund.   Also to those of you who have grown to know Luke and shown, by the generosity of your donations that enable us to continue giving this Bursary, that you believe in what we do.

 


 

MAY

 

LAUNCH OF THE WACKY MAN BY LYN G. FARRELL AT WATERSTONES

Waterstones Leeds was the venue for the launch of this powerful book, Lyn’s debut novel.   It has already received the sort of reviews that confirm what Legend Press and The Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary Judging Panel felt sure of, that this book will bring increased understanding not only of the pain of abuse but also the shame that abuse brings to its victims whilst revealing the way to something different.

 

A review by Linda Hill says “I don’t want to write a review of this remarkable book. I just want to repeat the word ‘stunning’ several times. Stunning, stunning, stunning.”

 

We believe it is.

 

Some pictures from the launch

 

 

 

Lyn G Farrell
 

 

 

Donna Maria

 

 

Lyn's family

 

 

Elaine & Carol

 

 

Lyn & Elaine

 

 

To all our generous Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary supporters come and join us at our 8th Bursary Winner's book launch.

 

 

April

 

It feels as if The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund has burst into 2016, like the fireworks last night, with vibrancy, energy and colour lighting up the skies.
With the vigorous Legend Press team and our vivacious, spirited and in some cases very energetic supporters of LBMF I am thinking of the ultra- marathon, it feels as if we have grown even more this year in our ability to find creative talent and provide the atmosphere for it to grow.
Cheques fell out of Christmas cards and we have promises for donations that will help provide the money for the Bursary and the other finalists' prizes, this year.     
Then there was the man, who I didn't know, who held the microphone for me because of my damaged right hand.   Although we had hardly exchanged any words, I could feel his empathy as I spoke of Luke's suicide so different to the many people who have turned away.   Yes, I understand it is because they don't know what to say but simply showing compassion by listening can be healing.
We feel truly inspired by the solidarity that we feel from all the people who have sent donations and expressed their belief in what we do to remember and honour Luke in a creative way.
I am also inspired personally by people's generosity of spirit.   The friend who gave me a little book full of Buddha's instructions and she particularly pointed out these words. "Every life has a measure of sorrow.   Sometimes it is this that awakens us."   How true this has proved to be as we talk more about mental health states and reducing the stigma that inhibits understanding.   Another one "There is the path of fear and the path of love.   Which will we follow?"   A profound question worth thinking about to find your own answer, nobody can provide this for you.
We are not independent but interdependent.
 May I wish you all a New Year that brings new insight and much joy.
Elaine Hanson

 

THE WACKY MAN
LYN G. FARRELL
Quote from Lauren Parsons Commissioning Editor Legend Press:
We are very excited to be publishing Lyn's novel, The Wacky Man. It is raw and compelling, and delivers a powerful message that needs to be told. A stunning debut to add to our lists.

 

We feel humbled knowing the huge amount of courage Lyn found to write this book and proud to know we have played a part in enabling this book to be published in 2016.
 PICTURES FROM THE AWARD NIGHT

 

 

OUR WINNER LYN FARRELL

 

 

Elaine making her speech

 

 

Lauren from Legend
 

 

 

SECOND  HUGO GIBSON

 

 

One of our Judges author Katie Fforde

 

 

Happy finalist Jennifer Lewis with her family

 

LYN FARRELL REVEALS HOW IT FEELS
KNOWING SHE IS OUR 8th BURSARY WINNER

I've just experienced the intense shock of success. My brain told my body 'I'm not able to process this so I'm going to treat it as a dream and go lie down for a while. You carry on'. My body, suddenly weak as a new born foal, did a sterling job of walking me around without fainting. I wasn't prepared to win; as I listened to the list of runners up being announced, I thought perhaps they'd forgotten to add me to it. I doubted my own hearing when I heard my name read out and had to be nudged out of my corner by my niece as she and my sister clapped and cheered me on. I felt it so important that I express my heartfelt thanks, but when I stood in front of everybody words zipped around in my mind like trapped bees and I managed only a sentence or two. When I sat down again I realised I'd forgotten to expressly thank the judges and was worried that they would take the prize back for ingratitude.
I've discovered that shock can be wonderful. I was catapulted into a surreal world, all wrapped up in a gigantic cheque. I was surrounded by lovely people and much loved family in a cosy location that heaved and buzzed with life. I sipped at my glass of wine, though I don't usually drink, as I was congratulated, hugged and embraced and I felt spectacularly lucky to feel such joy. Of course it didn't actually feel real and I couldn't sleep that night. At two in the morning, knowing that I had a whirlwind tour of London tourist spots ahead of me, I decided to calm myself down by counting sheep. Unfortunately, the sheep wouldn't behave. As they leapt, in turn, over the fence, they cheered and waggled their hooves in the air, celebrating my prize for me. I realised then that this surreal world wasn't disappearing anytime soon, so I lay in the dark letting the sheep run riot, tipsy with merlot, giggling into my pillow.
I spent Saturday with my sister and niece; letting the reality of the prize sink in as we watched BMX ballet in Trafalgar Square, visited the fabulous Tibet's Secret Temple exhibition at the Welcome Gallery and ate pizza in a friendly Italian restaurant. Being the 8th Luke Bitmead bursary prize winner finally felt real on the train on the way home. Then I flicked through my emails on my phone and saw a message 'we have news about your ticket'. I sank in my seat and thought 'Great, I knew I was dreaming'. When I logged into my online account I saw that I'd won £3.70. I have never been so grateful not to have won the national lottery.

THE 8th LUKE BITMEAD AWARD NIGHT WAS
EXCEPTIONAL so much was given and so much was
received.
Jannik Schmoller postponed his trip to Germany to collect his new camera and came and filmed our event as he did last year.   His short film was accepted at Cannes this year and he now has been commissioned to write a feature film script.   Along with his talent he has generosity of spirit and we thank him for giving his time with great enthusiasm.   Enjoy seeing our courageous 8th Bursary winner.   A full report will follow soon.


The Results
The Winner and First place Lyn Farrell
Second place Hugo Gibson
Third place Sue Reynolds
Runner ups
Bren Gosling
Deidre McFarlane
Jennifer Lewin
Joanne Phillips
Louise Sharland
Miranda Riwoe

 

The nine shortlisted authors are:
Bren Gosling - The Street Sweeper
Deidre McFarlane - Flight Path
Hugo Gibson - Storm Still
Jennifer Lewin - When Petals Fall
Joanne Phillips - This Beautiful World
Louise Sharland - Vigil
Lyn Farrell - The Wacky Man
Mirandi Riwoe - Fragrance of Night
Sue Reynolds - Temporary Spaces

 

 

LUKE BITMEAD BURSARY FINALISTS
We already know you are an amazing collection of talented people because we have read your books and personal statements.
It is going to be a dynamic Award Night meeting all of you and it will be really special to have our two new judges plus the rest of the judging panel for you to meet and discuss your books with.
Tara Guha last year's winner with her book UNTOUCHABLE THINGS will join me speaking about the experience of winning Luke's Bursary which had some amusing moments.
It feels like a human scaffold is being built from Luke's idea to support fledgling writers and I believe these words are important:
Act as if what you do makes a difference.   It does.      
William James   
And please know we feel privileged to have read your words.   Thank you to everyone who sent their submissions making it a challenging job to find our finalists.

 Luke Bitmead Bursary 2015
Shortlist Announced
Legend Press are delighted to announce the nine shortlisted authors for the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2015. The winner will be selected by a judging panel including authors Katie Fforde and Sam Mills, Guardian journalist Marta Bausells, Luke Bitmead's family and Legend Press.

 

Set up in the memory of Legend Press' first novelist, who died aged 34, it has grown to be the UK's most successful prize for unpublished writers. The Award has launched the writing careers of a number of successful writers, including Ruth Dugdall, Andrew Blackman and Sophie Duffy.
Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press, commented: "What started as a wonderful idea in Luke's memory and which celebrated his passion for supporting aspiring writers has developed into a fantastic prize which has given that all important first break to a large number of talented writers.
"The quality of entries this year was as high as ever and it was a very difficult task to limit the shortlist to nine unpublished novels. We are very excited about announcing the winner at the awards evening and working with another fantastic new writer."


JUDGING PANEL MEETING
The judging panel have now had a dynamic, lively and effective meeting discussing the finalists' personal statements and their manuscripts.
Following vigorous debate and careful consideration we will be announcing the short list on Monday.
Award Night will be on the 20th November 2015.
REMEMBERED WITH LOVE AND PRIDE
27th October 2015 is the 9th anniversary of Luke leaving this earthly life.

Luke at our wedding 2005
We have placed white flowers on his grave and as we made everything look cared for in the Autumn sunshine we thought about the incredibly inspiring people we have met because of Luke's Bursary.   People who have shared their own traumas with openness and honesty whilst supporting us.   Writers who have sent their submissions and even though they didn't win were motivating and stimulating with their generous praise in what we do in memory of Luke.
We are now looking forward to a vibrant judging panel meeting to decide this year's winner.
Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary Entrants this is for you, with so much else happening we do not want you to feel forgotten and of course a huge amount of work has been invested in reading all the submissions.
We are delighted to have received this quote From Lauren Parsons Commissioning Editor at Legend Press who said:
"We're so pleased to see that in its eighth year running, the Bursary continues to grow and attract writers from all corners of the world. We've received a great variety of submissions for this year's Bursary, and I'm very much looking forward to uncovering the next hidden talent, and ambassador for the prize."
The shortlist will be announced on 2nd November 2015
TWO DIAMONDS
Diamond comes from the Greek word 'adamus' which means unconquerable.   Ankia and Jim proved themselves to be utterly unyielding in their determination to complete the 50 MILES ULTRA MARATHON that they ran to raise money for Luke's Bursary this year.

Here they are in action with Ankia finishing in the dark after 18 hours of running and still looking amazing.   Jim finished in less than 14 hours.   Brilliant. Thank you both so much.   The Gift Aid Page will stay available for donations until November so for anyone who hasn't donated and feels they would like to acknowledge this great triumph from two amazing people we would be delighted to receive your help in raising the last few hundred pounds that we still need. Here is the link to donate:
 

https://www.justgiving.com/Ankia-Jim50miles

 

 

UNTOUCHABLE THINGS LAUNCHED
Thank you to all the vibrant people who came to Hebden Bridge Town Hall for your warmth and spontaneity for Tara's launch of her outstandingly written book, Untouchable Things.   Your empathy as to the essence of the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary was very much valued.
Here are some animated pictures of Tara speaking about her journey following winning Luke's Bursary and also reading an excerpt from her book.

 

Elaine spoke about keeping the secret that Tara had won?  Asking for Tara's forgiveness! And also the importance of better understanding of mental health issues the second strand of the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund.
Damian, Tara's brother entered fully into the spirit of the evening and did a great job holding the microphone in the right place!!   Thank you.
UNTOUCHABLE THINGS
TARA GUHA
Our 7th Bursary Winner is launching tomorrow at Hebden Bridge Town Hall Yorkshire.

 

 

We are delighted to have received this quote from Tara:
When details of the Luke Bitmead Bursary popped up on Twitter one day I had an immediate sense of connection. Not only was I a would-be writer with a complete first novel all dressed up with nowhere to go, but I was about to start work for Healthy Minds, an independent mental health charity in Halifax, in an anti-stigma role. I've had my own struggles with depression over the years, and frustrated creativity played its part in that. Winning the Bursary gave me something I believe we all need to be mentally healthy: recognition. The sense of validation, that all those years spent scribbling on paper or bashing on a keyboard meant something after all, has transformed the way I feel about myself and the way I relate to the world. Instead of being silenced by the stigma of suicide, Elaine Hanson has channelled her loss and grief into something that can turn other people's lives around. That, to me, is awe-inspiring. 
SEPTEMBER
We feel tremendously proud to know not one but TWO Luke Bitmead Bursary winners will be launching their books this month.
Firstly Sophie Duffy who was our third Bursary winner with her book The Generation Game followed by This Holey Life and now her third book BRIGHT STARS which will be available 1st October.   We feel on top of the world to have had this quote from Sophie confirming that Luke's idea to give a Bursary is giving life changing support to talented people.
Feeling rejected and very low, I was on the verge of giving up writing in 2010.   Then I stumbled across Luke's Bursary on Legend Press's blog.   As a suicide survivor myself, I felt an immediate connection with Luke and his family and sent off The Generation Game.   It was one of those serendipitous moments.
Thank you Sophie for your words that show clearly how by supporting others, Luke's life continues to have meaning.
Soon we will post the news of the other Bursary winner's book

 

AUGUST
SADNESS
It has been a long time since we posted news as it has been a sad time for us.
One of our very much appreciated Bursary supporters, Irene who had been having treatment for cancer has passed away, peacefully. It came as a shock as we thought she had longer to live.
We felt privileged to be at the Requiem Mass held to celebrate her life and offer our condolences to the O'Brien and the King family, particularly Paul.
When unexpected deaths come in a way that seems too soon in a person's life, she was 48, it is difficult to know how to express empathy but I do know from my own experience after Luke's death that to say something shows it mattered to other people as well as the family so they don't feel alone with their grief.
Start by doing what's necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Francis of Assisi
JUNE
AWE-INSPIRING
ANKIA AND JIM SCOTT HAVE PLEDGED TO RUN TO RAISE MONEY FOR LUKE'S BURSARY.

 

Ankia was a finalist at last year's Award Night. We chatted to both her and her husband Jim who before the end of the evening said he would like to do something to help raise money for the Bursary. Wonderful we thought and a huge thank you. At that time we didn't realise how challenging a run they planned to do!! In fact we didn't realise Ankia was planning to do it as well. It is really awesome and here is the link so you can see just what a challenging commitment they have given us.
http://www.lakesinaday.co.uk/
This is no ordinary run it is a 50 miles, Lakes in a Day Ultra Run. To do this requires fitness at a level that is impossible to achieve without absolute dedication and they have already been training for many months.
Please will you help to keep them inspired by donating on the Just Giving Page
https://www.justgiving.com/search?q=ankia
so they are able to see their enthusiasm and energy helping us to present another Luke Bitmead Bursary are truly valued.
We will post news and photographs of their training from time to time so you can follow their progress.

 

MAY
LUKE'S BIRTHDAY 13th May

 

 

Today we particularly remember Luke and post this picture of him in front of Hong Kong Harbour where he was working as a roofer to finance himself while he was also doing research for THE BODY IS A TEMPLE.
For new visitors to Luke's website his books are available on Amazon at a discount at the moment so a good time to purchase and have an exciting read of the book that WORKING TITLE were considering making into a film.
CERTAINTY
In this uncertain world we feel tremendously proud to know that with the unfailing support of Tom Chalmers and his creative team at Legend Press we are now focusing on the 8th Luke Bitmead Writers' Bursary.
Following the success of past years, we know the Bursary gives an inner light of possibility to fledgling writers who have experienced many difficulties in succeeding with their dream of becoming a published writer.
We also feel a tingle of excitement knowing we will receive your work to read and assess that will lead us to another Award Night. There we have the opportunity to meet people who have humanity in their hearts; meeting fellow writers enabling them to grow in strength and confidence taking a big step forward in their writing careers.
Submissions now open for the
8th Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary
Legend Press is delighted to announce the opening of submissions for the Luke Bitmead Bursary Award 2015.
The award was set up shortly after Luke's death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers and the Bursary is now the UK's biggest prize for unpublished authors. The top prize is a publishing contract with Legend Press and a £2,500 cash prize.
Luke Bitmead was the first novelist to be published by Legend Press, his novel White Summer was released in 2006 shortly before his death. Two novels have been published posthumously - The Body is a Temple and Heading South (co-authored by Catherine Richards). Information about Luke can be found at www.lukebitmead.com.
The Bursary is in its eighth year and previous winners are Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road),Ruth Dugdall (The Woman Before Me),Sophie Duffy (The Generation Game),J.R. Crook (Sleeping Patterns) Joanne Graham (Lacey's House),Jo Gatford (White Lies) and Tara Guha (Untouchable Things).
The award is for adult fiction - no children's books or non-fiction - and the novel must be completed at the time of entry.
Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press commented, "In this, Legend Press's tenth year, it is amazing that we are opening up the Bursary Award for the eighth time. What started as a brilliant idea from Luke's family to support aspiring writers, something Luke himself was passionate about, it has developed into one of UK's leading writing competitions. We are proud of the winners and their successes so far and are looking forward to finding the prize's eighth winner."

Submissions from writers will be accepted from 1st May until Saturday 1st August 2015
As the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund and Legend Press are keen to ensure this important prize continues for many years to come, there will be a £10 entry fee per submission, which will be paid directly to the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund.
For information about how to enter visit: http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/365-luke-bitmead-bursary

If you have any enquires please email bitmeadbursary@legendpress.co.uk
APRIL
News for this month is succinct as it will soon be May !
We are close to opening submissions for the next Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary and more news about that will be posted very soon.
We are delighted that our last winner Tara Guha is progressing well with getting the final editing finished for her brilliant book Untouchable Things.
We are delighted to have heard how well other finalists are progressing with their writing careers and feel humbled by their generous comments about the experience of entering Luke's Bursary.
MARCH
PROUD
We feel enormously proud to display the front cover of our 7th Luke Bitmead Bursary winner's book. This remarkable book will be published later this year.

 

 

Eight years ago after the birth of her first child Tara started to write this book. Now seeing the cover it unsurprisingly stirred deep feelings and here is how Tara described them:
"I get two jolts inside every time I look at the newly-designed cover for Untouchable Things. First: "that's my book!" Second: "that feels like my book". The feel of the book is in the sky, the wind and the splintered shards. I'm absolutely thrilled with it!"
HOW TO BE BRAVE
It has been uplifting to receive many messages both from Bursary winners, finalists and supporters of Luke's Bursary following the criticism of what we do in his memory.
It reminded me of a quote that was given to me many years ago "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." It's amazing how sometimes we forget helpful words when we are in a state of shock so thank you for helping me remember.
LOUISE BEECH one of the 7th Bursary finalists sent me sensitive and thoughtful words of encouragement. Then she sent me the brilliant news that following her place as a finalist she has now found a publisher for her book entitled HOW TO BE BRAVE
I remember Louise saying that she felt How to be Brave was the story she was always meant to write. Somehow it seems prophetic that this is the title and it feels there is a strong message there for all of us. Here is the link to read more:
http://orendabooks.co.uk/debut-author-louise-beech-is-signed-by-orenda/

FEBRUARY
SICHUAN SIZZLE
For those of you who follow Luke's website regularly, you will have noticed that there has been no blog since November when we had the glorious 7th Bursary Award Night. It has been really helpful in sustaining me through a bleak time to see the steady flow of visitors continuing. I hope the film that Jannik shot for us has been a splendid reminder of the joy of being amongst like-minded people who engaged and shared the triumph of Tara Guha and the other finalists whose books all deserve to be published.
Something has been hanging over my head and blurring my vision as to the way forward. It was made clear to me by a member of Luke's family that she thinks I have too much focus on Luke and so no Christmas card this year. I wanted to ask more but was told the conversation wouldn't continue and the phone was put down! I burst into tears - very unlike me. My reaction was provoked by total shock and disbelief at this unexpected attack. Also because it was close to Christmas when understandably emotions can run high and we particularly miss those who have died too young. It seems I have now been cut off from that part of the family as I wrote a letter but haven't received a reply - yet.
I feel a little like the whistle blowers in the NHS who try to do the right thing by exposing failure of care but then get persecuted to make them keep quiet, surely this is morally reprehensible. It jeopardises safety and deters others from coming forward. It is a tactic used for its inhibiting effect and if we allow fear to prevail then none of us are safe.
Along with all this turmoil in my head I have received wonderfully encouraging emails from some of our finalists and other people that believe this is a very positive way to remember Luke. The answer lies of course within myself and I feel it is right to continue to present the Bursary as long as I have enough support, and I think I do.
By now you might be wondering where "Sichuan Sizzle" comes in. Well I was reading a recipe and it said "gently smack ginger and spring onions with rolling pin to loosen their fibres." To me it seemed to give the answer maybe what I need to do is help the family members who think I am wrong to continue to remember Luke in this way by a gentle smack, metaphorically speaking, to help "loosen their fibres", their stuckness that has allowed three generations of men committing suicide to not be spoken about, so no opportunity for healing and change.. The stigma remains.
It would be much appreciated to hear what you think.


2014
NOVEMBER
A special moment for this years winner Tara Guha

 

 

We are delighted to have received Tara Guhas thoughts on how it felt to be the seventh Luke Bitmead Bursary Winner 2014
Feet First
Break a leg people said, but it was more my little toe that worried me. Since fracturing it three months earlier in a reckless encounter with a pair of wedges, I'd kept my dodgy feet in flat shoes. But now my sister-in-law had surprised me with a stunning new dress for the Luke Bitmead Bursary award night and, at the risk of sounding like someone I'm very much not, I had a shoe conundrum. Flats with that dress were just wrong. So 6.30 pm on Friday 28th November (the day!) found me hunched by some railings outside the Betsey Trotwood (the venue!) wrestling in the dark with one particularly stiff buckle as cool London people brushed past me. Don't let go of me I hissed to Dave (the supportive partner!). Together we hobbled inside.
I knew I wasn't going to win, of course. Knew it to the extent that it wasn't something I needed to consider or visualise even briefly. I'd put everyone right on that score. I was so thrilled to be shortlisted, to have that unexpected validation pop into my inbox amid the nicely phrased rejections, that I was just going to enjoy the night. It wasn't hard to do. There was Louise, easily recognisable from her Twitter photo, and other shortlistees, many of whom had travelled down like me from the north. Everyone was excited, eager to find out about each other. The atmosphere was warm and easy, like a party amongst friends. I met Lauren, Lucy and Lottie (the publishers!). I had a long conversation with Luke's mother Elaine, and felt we really connected. I knew I hadn't won, and the conversations with those in the know confirmed that, but I was touched at how carefully people seemed to have read my book and personal statement. My mind fizzed and my feet tingled.
It didn't go entirely smoothly. In a chat with lovely ex-winner and judge Ruth Dugdall I felt my brain cave in on itself when she asked me about my literary influences. I heard myself, in horrified slow motion, answer that I'd done a literature degree and loved "Emily Bronte and … er… people like that." People like that? Bet she was glad she hadn't picked me! By now the tingling in my feet had become a persistent throb, so as the presentations started I took a seat away from the stage and the cameras. Ruth's speech was properly inspiring and I admired, in an abstract way, how she had seized on the opportunity of being the Bursary winner. And then there was a Strictly Come Dancing moment as all the shortlistees were called up "in no particular order", which my kids would have appreciated. Better get ready...
I clapped as each shortlistee was named and came to the stage. More names, more clapping, and still not my own name, which was odd. Names, clapping, names … good grief, we'd reached the top three and Dave's eyes were nearly popping out of his head. I wasn't third. I pictured telling my parents I'd come second as I prepared to hear my name. But it wasn't my name. Dave grabbed me but I was frowning - there had been a mistake, they'd forgotten to announce me earlier, the real winner was still out there. I was shaking. People were turning to look at me. Then I heard it - my name, my book. Never in my life have I been more completely and utterly poleaxed.
I hadn't thought for a second what I might say in this situation. Somehow I managed to thank Legend Press and Luke Bitmead's family, but not a word for anyone else. Oscars speech it was not. I had to hold a giant comedy cheque (could I smuggle it home to show my kids?) and grin for the cameras. The pictures of me that evening show the same wide-eyed, wondering, slightly trippy smile as on the photos taken just after my children were born. At least I was expecting them!
Afterwards Lauren casually delivered the second most shocking revelation of the night - the publication date of my book. My book had a publication date. My book that I'd worked on for eight years in the corner of a bedroom around ill kids and long winters. People had been talking about it, scheduling it, writing a press release about it. I may have opened and closed my mouth several times like a fish at this point.
For the rest of the night I drifted around sipping champagne and hoping my brain would play catch-up. People were so warm in their congratulations: best-selling author and judge Sam Mills, my fellow shortlistees, and Elaine, who told me they were all being careful not to give the game away earlier (no problem on that score, folks!). Tom, the MD of Legend Press, referred to me as an award-winning author, and I laughed. Until I realised he was serious. Finally numbers dwindled and just a handful of us were left at the bar. I looked around, feeling fuzzy, happy and strangely at home. It was time. Foraging in my bag, I got out my flats.
A celebratory moment!
The Winners!


Watch the 7th Bursary Award speech on You Tube

 

We are greatly looking forward to awarding Luke's Writer's Bursary on 28th November 2014 and will be posting my speech the next day for those of you who are unable to be with us.
THE 2012 LUKE BITMEAD BURSARY WINNER JO GRAHAM GETS HER SECOND BOOK PUBLISHED ! SHE SENT US THIS QUOTE:
"On the 31st October 2014, my second book - To the Edge of Shadows - was published. I walked into my local Waterstones and there was a lovely stack of them waiting for someone to pick one up. On the shelf behind was my first book - Lacey's House - winner of the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary. It was a dream come true for me and none of it would have been possible if it weren't for the bursary set up in Luke's memory by his wonderful mother Elaine. To say that it has changed my life is an understatement. At the time of winning I was working in my day job with teenagers who displayed challenging behaviour. I was writing in the evenings after my children went to bed... it was exhausting and there never seemed enough hours in the day. In July of this year I finally took the plunge and gave up my day job to write full time. It feels incredible to be able to say that I am now officially a full time writer and two years ago I would never have believed it possible."
It is thrilling and encouraging to receive this news particularly as we are about to hold the award evening for the 7th Bursary on 28th of this month.
To know past Bursary winners have received a really solid step forward in their writing careers demonstrates the validity of awarding Luke's Bursary.
REMEMBERING LUKE

The 27th October is the date when Luke left this earthly life and the day I started to learn to live differently. I miss him all the time but I no longer get hi-jacked by my own feelings. I remember all he has taught me about how to really live because I now understand better what really matters. How to be aware of not knowing which in itself is a kind of knowing and not knowing is embraced in awareness.
Gradually learning and growing from understanding one another's perspectives is a beautiful way to live. Running Luke's Bursary with Tom, Lucy and Lauren at Legend Press has enabled me to remember Luke at this time of year particularly as we prepare for the 7th Award Night. What a brilliant idea Luke gave us before his death and what a huge privilege it is to meet our finalists every year.
Luke has great kindness and we his family have the honour of continuing to show this with the support of many like- minded people. A heartfelt thankyou to you all.

The 10 shortlisted authors are:
Ankia Scott - Secrets
Catherine Murphy - Bleak Lush
Christine Browne - Revenge Ritual
Emily Ruth Verona - Steady is the Fall
Jacqueline Grima - Coming Second
Jose Toledo - The Queen of Madagascar
Louise Beech - How To Be Brave
Melanie Garrett - This He Did Without Remorse
Simon Van Der Velde - The Benjamin Exhibition
Tara Guha - Absent
The award will be judged by Tom Chalmers, Lucy Chamberlain and Lauren Parsons from Legend Press, Luke's Mother Elaine Hanson and award-winning authors Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall.
The Luke Bitmead Bursary was founded by Luke's family, in association with Legend Press, shortly after Luke's tragic death in 2006 at the age of just 34. Luke's book White Summer was the first novel to be published by Legend Press and Luke was one of the UK's most talented up-and-coming writers. Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke's name and memory lives on. Previous winners of the award are: Andrew Blackman in 2008 for On the Holloway Road, Ruth Dugdall in 2009 for The Woman Before Me, Sophie Duffy in 2010 for The Generation Game, J.R. Crook in 2011 for Sleeping Patterns, Joanne Graham in 2012 for Lacey's House and Jo Gatford in 2013 for White Lies.
Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press commented: 'We are thrilled with our 2014 shortlist. With a record number of submissions for this our seventh year of the Bursary, we have been overwhelmed by the quality of submissions we have received. It is a pleasure to be working with Luke's family on a literary award growing year-on-year. Luke would have loved the idea of another struggling talented writer being supported on the arduous road to securing their first publishing deal. We look forward to announcing the winner in November.'

 

APOLOGY
It is with much regret that I offer my apology for saying the ten finalists for the Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary would be announced today. I was wrong. I misinterpreted Legend Press saying last week it would be early this week and I thought early meant Monday. Please let me assure you Lucy Chamberlain the Publicity Director at Legend Press will always make sure she gets the best publicity available and this will of course be good for you. It will be soon and I hesitate to be more exact as the world of journalists allows for flexibility with regard to timing.
I do remember what an anxious time it was for Luke waiting to hear back from agents and am fully aware that having poured so much of your selves into a book, waiting isn't easy. Please know I am contrite.
Elaine
OCTOBER
MAGIC HAPPENS
Looking out of my kitchen window I can see two stunning horse chestnut trees in the copse opposite our house. They are wearing their autumn colours of bronze with auburn high lights; soon they will lose all their leaves and stand bare branched but robustly tolerating the winter gales. Magically when spring arrives their sticky buds will start to burst open revealing unfurling green leaves and glorious white candles. Luke loved these trees and now they seem to symbolise his Bursary. We open for submissions on the 1st May, the month of Luke's birthday and now in October the month Luke died we will announce our ten superb finalists.
I struggle to find words eloquent enough to explain how impressed, humbled and privileged I have been feeling as I have read the personal statements that give us a flavour of the person behind the book they have submitted.
Please know your statements have taken me through a whole gamut of emotions. Thank you for your openness sharing your thought provoking ideas and your belief in the way we are remembering Luke. I feel enriched and inspired reading your words and full of admiration for your tenacity.
Tomorrow our ten finalists will be announced.
SEPTEMBER
We are aware from comments made in past years what a long time it seems for those who have submitted books, and are waiting for the finalists to be announced, so we wanted to give some news keeping you in touch with progress.
Here is a quote from Lucy at Legend Press:

'Following the closure of submissions for this year's Luke Bitmead Bursary we are delighted to be able to say we have received a record number of submissions this year and it is fantastic to see the prize growing from strength to strength. The Legend Press team have now begun to read entries and it is superb to see the wealth of writing talent out there. The award is a brilliant way to support new writers who are struggling to find their way and also to raise awareness of mental illness in society in general, through Luke's story. We have received a real range of submissions, both in terms of genre and style, and some really powerful supporting personal statements from the authors who have submitted.'
It is a joy to know that selecting our finalists is in safe professional hands and thank you to everyone that entered.
AUGUST
Entries have now closed for the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary.
Lauren Commissioning Editor at Legend Press said: 'We are delighted to be working on the Bitmead Bursary again, now in its seventh year. In the past we have discovered some wonderful debut writers that have gone on to achieve fantastic success both here in the UK and around the world. We have received hundreds of submissions for the next round and look forward to diving in to find the next hidden treasure!'
REQUEST
Following the successful launch of our 6th Bursary winner's book White Lies by Jo Gatford we are now focusing on raising funds for this year's Bursary. We have already raised £3,000 and so now need £1,000 for this year. We know from the feedback we receive this is proving a worthy way to remember Luke and also highlight the continuing need for better treatment for people struggling with mental health issues.
When donating please remember no amount is too small and for many people to donate a little maintains the hope in our hearts that Luke's tragic and untimely death is remembered in a way that rekindles for all of us enthusiasm for life's journey.
To donate
Send a cheque payable to The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund to:
"FREEPOST THE HANSON PARTNERSHIP LLP"
There is no postage to pay.
Or pay by BACS/Internet transfer to:
The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund
Account number 71543547
Sort code 40-05-26
If you pay tax please ask for a Gift Aid Form so we can claim from HMRC 25 pence for every £1 you donate
LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY
1ST JULY 2014
It is the last month for entries for Luke's Bursary this year. The summer solstice passed with magnificent skies. It is a time when hope becomes more believable and hearts can rekindle enthusiasm for life's journey.
Tomorrow JO GATFORD launches her book WHITE LIES it is a book that everyone should read bringing clarity and understanding to a difficult subject. We are proud that she was our 6th Bursary winner.
Here are her words sharing how she feels now knowing her first book has made it to the book shelves.
White Lies is about people who don't know how to talk. Its about all the little white lies we tell ourselves, and each other, to try to gloss over the fact that something might be wrong. Its about not being able to say what we need to say.
When I won the Luke Bitmead Bursary I knew my book had found its home and would be in good hands. Luke's family work towards raising awareness and breaking down taboos around mental health - a cause that resonates personally with me and is the subject of a lot of my writing. When you suffer from mental illness, depression or a cognitive disorder like dementia, you feel trapped. Whether you're trapped inside your head, your body, your family, the health system or society as a whole, its often extremely difficult to make your voice heard. A big part of challenging preconceptions about mental health issues is to help give voice to all those stifled feelings, and I hope that White Lies offers a lesser-seen perspective, and a loud voice, to people in the same kind of situation.
And so, on my book's launch day, I'm feeling extremely grateful to the Luke Bitmead Bursary and to Legend Press for believing in my story and making me feel so welcome, and for letting my voice be heard.

 

JUNE
Remembering Luke in Scotland
We spent many happy times in Scotland with Luke. It is a great opportunity to promote his books and his story always remembering that people with mental health problems need understanding and support not criticism. We spent a delightful time with the Scotts on Inchmurrin Island ( www.inchmurrin-lochlomond.com ) arriving after a short ferry ride from the mainland to a warm welcome and directions as to how to find the ruined castle. It was charming and peaceful with only the wildlife to be heard. We wandered back for dinner - freshly made from local produce. It was a truly memorable experience to be cared for by three generations of the same family who embraced not only us but Luke's story. We will visit again next year.

 

MAY
LUKE'S BIRTHDAY 13th MAY 2014

Luke was fascinated by words. We kept a tin in the kitchen and when he heard a word he really liked from the age of about nine he would write the word on a piece of cardboard and keep it in the tin. When there seemed to be a good collection of interesting words he would create a sentence or two that would eventually evolve into a story.
Words are wonderful things but they can be slippery. They may not speak as loudly as actions yet they can certainly whisper themselves insidiously into the wrong ear at the wrong moment. Words have great power but need to be chosen carefully.
Writers get the opportunity to whisper into many ears and tell compelling stories that the reader can interpret in the way that feels right for them.
Now we have opened submissions for Luke's Writer's Bursary we will have a great opportunity to explore fresh talent. Please don't feel intimidated at the thought of presenting your work but seize the opportunity to become a published writer.
We will always miss Luke and feel desperately sad that he isn't here to develop his talent but it is hugely comforting to us to know that again this year we will bring another talented writer out of the shadows. And for those people suffering from depression and other health issues we will continue to shine the spotlight on the need for better understanding and treatment.
It has helped us to have emotional resilience remembering our much loved son in this positive way. Thank you to everyone who remembers Luke. Souls that love live on forever.
Exciting Feedback
When a door is opened with the hope that someone will want to enter it is particularly satisfying to have many people requesting information and making the opening of submissions seem bold and colourful.
We thank the brilliantly organised Lucy Chamberlain who had these words to say:
'We are delighted to have opened submissions for the Bursary for a 7th year. It is fantastic to see all the buzz online about the Bursary and we are pleased to see everyone using the #bitmeadbursary hashtag on Twitter. This is a brilliant prize for unpublished authors and it is great to see the word spreading! We look forward to reading all the submissions we receive over the coming months, and discovering more talented and inspirational writers.'
We will be posting news more regularly now
The 1st May heralds the opening for entries for the 7th year for THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY.
 

1st May - Writer's Prize

 

Visit the Legend Press website

Submissions now open for the 7th Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary

We are excited to announce the opening of submissions for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary. The award was set up shortly after Luke's death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers. The Bursary is now the UK's biggest award for unpublished authors. The top prize is a publishing contract with Legend Press, and £2500 bursary.

Luke Bitmead was the first novelist to be published by Legend Press, his novel White Summer was released in 2006 shortly before his death. Two novels have been published posthumously - The Body is a Temple and Heading South (co-authored by Catherine Richards). 

We are pleased to be continuing this brilliant bursary for a seventh year, and hope to follow in the success of our previous winners Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road),Ruth Dugdall (The Woman Before Me),Sophie Duffy (The Generation Game),J.R. Crook (Sleeping Patterns),Joanne Graham (Lacey's House) and last year's winner Jo Gatford (White Lies, published 1st May 2014).

Submissions from writers will be accepted from today 1st May until Friday 1st August 2014

Only adult fiction is eligible for this bursary, no children's books or non-fiction. The judging panel will consist of Luke's Mother Elaine, Legend Press, Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall.

For information about how to apply please click here

Entrants must be aged 16 or over. There is no upper age restriction for entry but all submissions must be from first-time, non-published authors - particularly those who are talented but whose personal or financial circumstances are making it especially hard for them to focus on writing as a career.

The 2013 bursary was inundated with entries and we look forward to reading your work and discovering more talented authors to join our fantastic alumni!

For all enquiries please email bitmeadbursary@legendpress.co.uk
For all media enquiries please contact Lucy on 0207 300 7370
or lucychamberlain@legend-paperbooks.co.uk

 

April
INSPIRATION

This is potentially a life changing week both powerful and historic. It brings a total Lunar Eclipse plus a rare 'Grand Cross' shape of heavenly bodies. During a Luna Eclipse the earth's shadow passes between the Sun and the Moon. Briefly the Moon is plunged into darkness. It can no longer reflect the glorious light of our star.
It is worth remembering in life when we find ourselves in a dark place that we can change this by changing what is around us. This sometimes means changing the people we interact with. It is possible to learn more when we disagree rather than live in a state of bland neutral acceptance.
The moment we can realise we have a problem and we are able to rise to the challenge and do something then that is a moment of personal growth.
Spring is all around us showing bursting buds on the trees and in the hedgerows. The birds are singing in excitement while they seek places to build their nests. Yes the sap is rising and creating new life. It hardly seems possible remembering the incessant rain through the winter months. Nature shows us how to be resilient and trust that things will get better. The sun shine will return.
Soon we will open entries for The 7th Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary and look forward to reading the work of fledgling writers. Maybe those dark wet months will have inspired some inspirational writing.
We will be posting more news soon..


February
WHITE SUMMER

 

We are getting great feedback from people who have recently discovered White Summer.
This is the first book that Luke had published. It is a fast paced vibrant comedy that is hilarious but also full of pathos. Guy Chamberlain is looking for meaning in his life and love because if we don't have love we have nothing. Love is revealed in the choices we make and the commitment we make to others in good times and bad. Guy thought love was about being romantic or erotic then he discovered it was so much more.
White Summer is available on Amazon at a discounted price. If you buy White Summer and The Body is a Temple the price is reduced further

LET'S WALK TOGETHER DOING IT
DIFFERENTLY
Maybe you are thinking - doing what differently? The answer is LIFE. Since Luke's death I have met some wonderfully empathic people who have sustained me through very dark, bleak times. The way they have sustained me is by simply, metaphorically taking my hand and walking with me. The going has been rough sometimes but when I stumbled a hand would steady me and I would regain my balance and walk on looking at the world differently.
It has taught me so much about life and the importance of understanding what really matters. It's people that really matter and the relationships we develop with them. The business of life is the acquisition of memories and we can all choose what it is we think about.
Many people find great pleasure in achieving physical fitness and that is a healthy way to be but along with that is a need for intellectual muscle including an ability to make sense of their feelings. In the UK it can sometimes feel as if our culture floats like a raft of trash on a sea of nonsense, borne by currents of materialistic needs. It seems we live in the age of measurement rather than enlightenment.
There is no algorithm for living but heightened awareness of ourselves and our environment, developing our spirituality and the ability to let go of fear so we can engage with like minded people then all this gives the opportunity to improve the quality of our lives. And there is no financial cost!
Looking at the amazing blue sky on Christmas Day lifted my heart but at the same time I was aware that there were people with flooded homes and no electricity. Maybe if we all develop a stronger moral compass we will be there to offer a steadying hand to people who are in distress and then we in turn can feel confident that when we are in need a hand will be offered to us.

 

Christmas Greetings

to everyone who follows this website and a huge thank you to all the generous people who have given donations enabling us to continue Luke's Bursary.

More news soon

We are excited to post the blog written by our sixth

LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY

winner telling the story of how it felt to be voted the person who has received this award for 2013. We are proud to introduce this talented writer -

JO GATFORD

An announcement… and a miniature tree

A few weeks ago I accidentally made a grand entrance at the Luke Bitmead Bursary presentation… carrying a miniature tree:

 

 

Because that is how I roll.

I'd made my husband promise that he wouldn't let me demonstrate my incredible talent of making an utter tit of myself in this particular social situation - he didn't seem all that confident but assured me he would try. Surely it was a simple task to play it classy: be calm, mingle a bit, talk about my book, meet the other shortlisted authors and judges and, you know, be cool. And then the bartender passed me a small tree so he could identify our table when our food was ready. Marvellous.

I'd been shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary - an amazing fund organised by Luke's family and Legend Press with the aim of supporting emerging authors to get a leg up in the industry. When I got the news I did my customary happy dance and then promptly tried to forget about the possibility of winning. My book had made it onto another shortlist earlier in the year but when nothing came of it I was well and truly gutted, and I didn't want to approach this opportunity in the same all-or-nothing way. Making the bursary shortlist was a fantastic notch on my literary bedpost and if that's as far as things went, so be it. I was content, and very chuffed.

And then there I was - tree in hand - introducing myself to Tom Chalmers of Legend Press and Luke's step-father Chris at the presentation in London. I met a couple of the other authors and their families too - all of them friendly, chatty and slightly anxious (let's face it - busy social events aren't the natural habitat of a writer) - and started to wonder if I was really meant to be there. "Hey, we get travel expenses and a few free glasses of wine," was my mantra. A few judges came past to wish me well, including the lovely Ruth Dugdall (previous Bitmead winner and author of The Woman Before Me) who told me what a supportive team Legend Press were, and said I needed to get a 'finalist' sticker so everyone could point and stare. "They keep looking over at you," my husband kept telling me, which was ridiculous, obviously. Obviously.

Then: the results. Lauren and Lucy of Legend Press began reading out the six runners-up and the crowd closed in, our view obscured by a wall of suits. My husband and I perched up on the back of our seating booth and clapped enthusiastically for each writer as they were called up to be congratulated. And as each one passed I mouthed my own name, expecting it to be read out next. But it wasn't.

"Top three!" my husband said quietly, and I began to shake a little bit. Sue Luddem, who we'd been sitting with all evening, was also waiting for her name to be called, and I thought it best to poke her in the arm to see if she was as gobsmacked as I was. (She was.) But neither of our names were next - Liam Brown received third place for his novel Fade to White and the applause got louder until:

"Second place: Susan Luddem - Getting Away With It."

And that left just one place and one name, and somehow they were both mine. Someone in the crowd turned around and shook my hand. Whispers spread and fingers pointed to our little booth. My husband started bouncing up and down, whispering: "You did it, you did it!" and all I could do was slap him across the chest and hiss, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" I'm used to challenges, rejection, not-quite-getting there, you see. I'm good at recharging my stoic resources and soldiering on, but success is a bit of an unknown. I have no idea how to react to coming first in something, let alone finally seeing my biggest dream come true. This book is my second completed novel (my first is languishing away in a drawer, as so many first novels must do, waiting for better days, better skills, better ideas) and has been my paper-baby for getting on for six years. I've always been a great believer in the power of optimism and determination and it wasn't ever that I *knew* I'd get published one day, but I was damn sure going to keep trying until it happened. And now… a crowd was gently nudging me towards the front of the room and I sort of fell into Elaine's arms for an enormous congratulatory hug.

"Meet your publisher," she said, passing me to Tom, whose face had turned into one massive grin, and I proceeded to repeat "Thank you, thank you, what the hell is going on? Thank you," to everyone I spoke to for the following couple of hours, laughing because it was so utterly surreal. A publishing contract with Legend Press. And an oversized comedy cheque. And a general feeling of being very, very drunk without actually having had more than one glass.

 

 

  The lovely Elaine Hanson, my very proud husband, and my gobsmacked little face.

Eloquence and articulation are lost in the face of such things. Instead I'm left with: "My book, story, baby, thing, is gonna be a proper thing. Like a book. I mean, a BOOK. With pages and a cover and you can hold it in your hands and it will have words in it. My words. Stuff wot I wrote and stuff. And you're gonna buy it, yeah? Cos I'll be a writer. With a book. A real papery book! Why are you looking at me like that?"

_______

And breathe.

Yes, I am flying on clouds of awesome right now, but in all seriousness, there are thank yous and nods and points to be made. The bursary was created in honour of Luke Bitmead, author of White Summer, The Body is a Temple, and co-author of Heading South, all published by Legend Press. After Luke's tragic death in 2006 his family set up a fund "to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers" in association with Legend, which now offers the largest literary prize for new writers in the UK.

 

 

Luke Bitmead

At the presentation evening Luke's mother Elaine gave a speech about the importance of making personal connections, of inviting in new experiences, and relieving the isolation in which writers often find themselves. I was drawn to the Luke Bitmead bursary because of what it stands for - not simply the support of emerging authors in a tough financial climate, but also the attempt to break down the stigma attached to mental health issues. There are far fewer than seven degrees of separation between you and someone with mental health problems, I guarantee it. And yet it's very hard to talk about, or acknowledge, or find peace with. But when lines of communication do open up, the taboo quickly becomes something of a norm - people sympathise, empathise, sidle out of the woodwork to admit that they, too, have experienced similar problems, and it's not such a lonely place after all.

At the core of my book lies a battle between whatever normality the characters are hoping to achieve, and the psychological problems that are fundamental parts of their personality. A father with dementia, a son with depression, and a splintered family in between, grappling to retrieve lost connections - because sometimes the people closest to you can feel the furthest away.

White Lies will be published by Legend Press in 2014.

(Oh my… Did I say that out loud?)

 

 

Award Evening 2013!

We are delighted to be able to post more pictures of the evening and our finalists who we were privileged to meet. They fully engaged with what we are doing in memory of Luke. It was an awe inspiring evening talking with them

 

 

 

Tom Chalmers

 

 

Ruth Dugdall

 

 

Martin Cathcart Froden

 

 

Alex Vargas

 

 

Fran Slater

 

 

Andrew Hatch with Lauren from Legend

 

 

Liam Brown

 

 

Susan Luddem

 

 

Our winner Jo Gatford

 

 

Sam Mills, Elaine and Jo Gatford

 

 

Elaine presenting Jo Gatford with her cheque

 

 

Cheque received!

 

 

Sam, Lauren and Liam Brown

 

 

Elaine with Jo Gatford and her husband Joe

 

 

We are proud to announce

Jo Gatford

as the winner of the Luke Bitmead Writer's Busary
2013

LUKE BITMEAD 6th BURSARY PRESENTATION

7th November 2013

 

Standing listening to the vibrant conversations being held around me it makes my heart sing with joy knowing that like minded people are talking and hopefully listening to each other. This is a healthy way to be. Engaging with each other bringing our own thoughts, experiences and ideas to the conversation, and listening to different and maybe challenging responses. It is what writers perhaps don't get the opportunity to do enough of as writing can be a solitary profession.

Luke loved telling stories about his travels in many parts of the world and the interesting people he engaged with. I remember him telling me about one of the best meals he had ever had. He shared it with a Thai family who lived in a shack with little as far as material possessions were concerned. They invited him to eat with them. Fresh fish straight from the sea simply prepared and served with great generosity of spirit. As many of you know he wrote TBisaT following the two years he lived in Thailand and that is what gives the book its authenticity. He experienced the beauty of the country and its people but also got caught up in the darker narcissistic side of life where people took what they wanted for themselves with no concern for the trauma imposed on others. It's a tense story of survival combined with a strong desire to live in a finer way. It's Luke's story.

Maybe this sounds as if I am grappling with nostalgia, regret and the relentless passage of time. Yes there is a devastating wistful pathos in these words of mine, a mother who had to stand and watch her son die. Helpless to save him. We can't legislate to make people care about each other but surely life is a never ending learning curve and one has to give of oneself to reap any reward.

I have learnt a huge amount since Luke's death. I could decide to lead a much quieter existence and make speeches which were purely replete with platitudes but inside me is a determination to make Luke's death something I work with to create an opportunity for better understanding. To encourage both the medical profession and families to increase their knowledge and understanding of how our brains work and what is required to enhance our mental health. I know the government have at last realised that there is "no health without mental health." It is an important step forward.

Gross Domestic Product is rising at a healthier pace and this brings financial stability but this is not sufficient to give us a healthy society. To achieve that what we need is to care about each other. Luke cared about people and even when life was very tough for him he thought about others. He had the idea to create a writer's bursary to provide some support for unpublished writer's to help them make the momentous leap to becoming published with a bursary to ease the financial strain.

You can't start a fire without a spark and Luke was that spark but to keep it burning we have had to keep stoking the fire. Chief stoker is Tom Chalmers of Legend Press he embraced the thought of a bursary from the moment I told him of Luke's idea and with Lucy Publicity Director, Lauren Editorial Director they have this year had many more entries to read and what an amazing selection of books were finally selected.

Donations are a vital part of enabling us to present this Bursary and we will be passing round sparkly bags during the evening and hope you will help us to start replenishing our empty coffers in preparation for next year. We feel encouraged by every contribution we receive and excited by the ingenuity of our donators who undertake all sorts of activities to raise money. Things that have been done in the past include a swimathon, running a half marathon, giving a talk, renting a field for parking for Kate Moss's wedding, tax advice - yes we will be receiving the fee for this. That was really inventive and a first! Tom did mention a cycle ride to Paris but since his daughter was born he has gone quiet on that one something to do with lack of sleep, I think. It is wonderfully inspiring to hear how you raise money and we really enjoy hearing your stories.

The Personal Statement is an important part of the judging process and for the first time this year we are giving an additional prize for the best one. To read about a person's life experiences and how they have been drawn to writing as a career gives me, a psychodynamic counsellor working closely with people all the time, an idea of what depths this person has to draw on enabling their characters to feel real and readers to become immersed in the story they are telling. Thank you all for listening and I shall end with Thomas Aquinas's intuition, that too much information blocks the act of understanding.

SUNDAY 27th OCTOBER THE
SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF LUKE'S
UNTIMELY DEATH

 

 

This photograph of Luke was taken during his first term at Radley when he was twelve years old. He was a handsome boy who grew into a handsome and talented man.

He left us a rich legacy to work with. Two unpublished books and his idea to give a bursary to support fledgling writers was an important part of that legacy. On 7th November in London we will present the sixth Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary that has been chosen from vigorous discussions amongst the judging panel.

The dark veil that hangs between life and death has become lighter as we work together to honour Luke's memory giving others the opportunity to have their work published by the great team at Legend Press.

These powerful words were read by a friend of Luke's at his funeral.

"You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

The Prophet Kahlil Gibran

We are delighted to be posting this invitation to all the supporters and donators of The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund. It is you who have enabled us to gather the necessary funds for this years Bursary and hope you will be able to join us at the presentation.

RSVP Lucy Chamberlain lucychamberlain@legend-paperbooks.co.uk

Shortlist for 2013 Luke Bitmead Bursary announced

Legend Press are delighted to announce the 10 shortlisted authors for the 2013 Luke Bitmead Bursary. Set up in memory of Legend Press' first ever published novelist the award, now its sixth year, supports the work of struggling unpublished authors.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Central London on 7th November 2013. The winning author will receive £2500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press for 2014 for their submitted novel.

 

 

The 10 shortlisted authors are:

Alex Vargas - Trudy Mean
Andrew Stephen Hatch - Los Gigantes
Susan Gee - Getting Away With It
Paul White - Winter Daffodils
Paul Vates - Plot 51
Jo Gatford - Piecemeal
Fran Slater - Fierce Animals
Paul McMahon - Dead Reckoning
Liam Brown - Fade to White
Martin Cathcart Froden - Robert Anderson's Files

The award will be judged by Tom Chalmers, Lucy Chamberlain and Lauren Parsons from Legend Press, Luke's Mother Elaine Hanson and award-winning authors Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall.

The Luke Bitmead Bursary was founded by Luke's family, in association with Legend Press, shortly after Luke's tragic death in 2006 at the age of just 34. Luke's book White Summer was the first novel to be published by Legend Press and Luke was one of the UK's most talented up-and-coming writers. Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke's name and memory lives on. Previous winners of the award are: Andrew Blackman in 2008 for On the Holloway Road, Ruth Dugdall in 2009 for The Woman Before Me, Sophie Duffy in 2010 for The Generation Game, J.R. Crook in 2011 for Sleeping Patterns and Joanne Graham in 2012 for Lacey's House.

 

SEPTEMBER

THE TEMPERATURE IS RISING

After this glorious summer with many hours of sunshine we are now moving into autumn the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness.'

However at Legend Press the temperature is rising following Lucy's glorious wedding in August and Legend's move to larger offices now they are reading all the entries for the sixth Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary. Here is a comment from them:

'We are delighted with the quality of this year's entries, it will be extremely hard to pick our shortlist of 10 authors. We have received some amazing and inspirational personal stories, and a real range of genres - from historical, literary, crime to romance, experimental prose and fantasy. We thank everyone for entering and look forward to our judging meeting in October.'

We are all excited at the prospect of the judging panel meeting in October followed by the presentation evening in November.

It must seem a long wait for those of you who have entered the competition but it is a lengthy process to make sure everybody has their work carefully read.

This year we have had more donations for smaller amounts and this is I feel a much better way to gather the necessary funds. If there is anyone who would like to contribute we would be delighted to receive your donation to help us reach our target of £4,000. This means we can give £2,500 to the winner plus prizes to the runners up as well. All ten finalists will receive a cheque for £100 to help with travel costs enabling we hope everyone to come to the presentation evening.

Everyone who works to give this award gives their time and so all donations are passed on to the fledgling writers who are our finalists. See Donations on the left.

BREAKING THE SILENCE

As I read emails that have been sent to me since the article about Luke appeared in The Mail on Sunday it becomes more and more clear how the fear of speaking openly about mistakes prevents the opportunity to change and improve things. What is it that prevents us challenging things? Why do we feel we must accept the way things are even if we aren't happy about what has happened. People suffer when their emotions are discounted and so often this starts in our own family. If our emotions are discounted as a child then we grow to believe this is how it will be for us in adulthood unless we discover a way to challenge what has been taught to us through the dynamics in our own family. Psychotherapy and counselling help people to discover how to regulate emotions differently, re-working toxic narratives and building confidence in trusting relationships. It takes time to embed these new ways of thinking in our neural pathways. Maybe if we allowed ourselves the freedom to feel comfortable to seek help when we are not happy in our lives and unable to cope, then early intervention would attend to mental health issues before they escalate and become more difficult to treat.

HUGE THANK YOU

It has been outstanding to receive messages from people who have really engaged with Luke's story and some who have told tragic stories of their own. We are becoming increasingly aware that these mistakes are made due to lack of knowledge and training. To be faced, as a professional, with a situation caring for a patient that you feel incompetent to manage does not allow for the patient to receive healing treatment.

There seems to be an important message that we all need to be more aware of how to look after our mental health and certainly the experiences of our childhood can determine our future emotional well being.

It feels important that we all share in the responsibility for gaining more awareness in how to encourage a healthier society to develop both physically and mentally.

4 August

Mail on Sunday pages 64 - 65

Today's feature article showing vibrant pictures of my talented son along with the appalling facts of his case make it clearly necessary to change the law - if you agree please contact your MP - to start the debate as to how this can happen.

Together we can create change

The full article is on this website see the Mail on Sunday page

AUGUST

A FEATURE ARTICLE TELLING LUKE'S STORY IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY THIS WEEKEND

To be able to maintain a need to know why rather than slide into acceptance of something that could have been prevented from happening is what the press have enabled us to do. Curiosity correlates with all sorts of good things - health and happiness are important but one of the useful things that curiosity brings is a first step towards change. Unless we change, the same mistakes will be repeated so to have an attitude of inquiry into ourselves and the world around us seems to be a more dynamic way to live.

Thank you to the press for their amazing energy and continuing curiosity into understanding Luke's story.

AMAZON BIG SUMMER SALE

It is brilliant to see that Amazon have chosen to reduce

THE BODY IS A TEMPLE Kindle to 99p !!!

J. R. Crook our fourth Bursary winner emailed me to check that I had seen this and his amazing book SLEEPING PATTERNS Kindle has also been reduced to 99p.

It feels poignant to know both these books have been put on the frontline to encourage sales this summer. Knowing we have enabled a talented writer to get published by winning Luke's Bursary and that the last book we had of Luke's to publish are both now achieving success makes me feel exceptionally proud.

Please, now we need you all to go out and buy more copies to give as presents so the royalties will continue to support this year's Bursary.

LOVE IS THE STRENGTH THAT GIVES YOU LIFE

JULY

When you receive love you lose fear and you can give the best in you. The practical form of love is respect. Respect means acceptance of the fact that we are all different and unique also we all have something important and valuable to share.

It has been uplifting to know how people are doing things that show their respect for Luke. And for those who didn't meet Luke it seems they have respect for his story.

A wonderfully talented illustrator Christian Mtima drew a picture of Luke for an article in Spindle Magazine. It was a really well written article and Christian's drawing cleverly captured Luke with his uncertainty showing in his beautiful eyes. Including his drums along with symbolising The Body is a Temple with an artist's model showed how Christian had spent time creating an image that portrayed the essence of Luke.

Andrew Blackman, our first Bursary winner, wrote a stirring article giving five reasons why you should enter Luke's Bursary competition. Entries close on 2nd August 2013 so there is still time to send your unpublished novel to Legend Press and maybe you will be our winner this year.

Our love for Luke lives on by encouraging fledgling writers with the offer of a Bursary £2,500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press. Love is not only a feeling but is expressed in words and actions.

THE BODY IS A TEMPLE is available
at www.amazon.co.uk

FRIENDSHIP AND LUKE'S BURSARY
COMPETITION JUNE 2013

Friendship is the basis of every genuine relationship. It is paramount to understand that this has to begin inside ourselves. Until we take responsibility for and start listening to ourselves we cannot be our own friend. We need to find time to listen to ourselves. How can we expect others to understand us if we don't understand ourselves?

To begin to feel great we need to become more honest. My honesty last year, asking for help to raise funds for Luke's Bursary brought in superb generosity of spirit in diverse ways. The eclectic mix of ideas would appeal to Luke and his philosophical way of thinking. What Luke found really difficult was to ask for help so please may I encourage anybody who is unsure as to whether to enter this competition please do because it will help you discover something about yourself in the process. Once you have entered you will automatically receive an invitation to our presentation night and that will give you an opportunity to meet fellow writers and people who are enthusiastic to encourage literary talent.

The efficient and creative team at Legend Press are constantly reassessing with me the best way to encourage fledgling writers. To watch the way past winners are now moving forward in their writing careers is inspiring.

I am now able to embrace the thought that when Luke died it wasn't an end but a beginning. These words by T. S. Eliot express what I mean so elegantly:

For last year's words belong to last year's language.

And next year's words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

Thank you to all those sensitive people who have been part of making this possible and my hope is that we will have encouraged people to ask for help when it is needed so their lives can be lived to the full and we will continue to do this for many years.

It is motivating to have received this message from Lucy at Legend Press:

'We are delighted with the varied and exciting entries we have received for the Luke Bitmead Bursary this year, and welcome new submissions up to the deadline on 2nd August. Our previous winning novels have ranged in style from crime, female fiction, contemporary fiction and an experimental novella, so we really are open to writers of different genres. First and foremost we are looking for authors who really excite us - who are writing something a little bit different, who are passionate about getting their work published and who would be a great ambassador for the bursary.'

LUKE'S BIRTHDAY 13.05.13. AND

REMEMBERING HIM WITH AVIDITY

Monday Luke's birthday seems particularly special as the date contains the number thirteen twice. The only time this will happen in our life time. Luke was drawn to numbers and letters that seemed to have a special meaning. He had an awareness of a deeper meaning than the obvious. He was creative. He would have noticed two thirteen's, and made his own interpretation.

Remembering Luke's enthusiasm and the many simple acts of kindness he showed others it would be brilliant if on Monday we could achieve more sales of

THE BODY IS A TEMPLE

AMAZON are offering it at £5.27.

Please order yourself a copy and be transported to beautiful Thailand where a story is told with suspense and tension plus a charming love story entwined through it. A story of hope to live life in a better way.

This year we will present the sixth Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary and all the royalties will help fund this. The more books that are sold the more opportunity for Luke's Bursary to thrive.

We are thrilled to be announcing the 6th Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary Competition.

 

 

 

GENTLENESS

As Luke's Bursary grows it is remarkable how we receive gentleness from people in a way that is truly humbling. Their gentleness has given us strength. I found these words in a shop in Cambridge and thought they had so much meaning.

'Gentleness is easily seen as a soft touch, a soothing look, comforting words. But in reality, gentleness is the manifestation of our inner strength and wisdom on the basis of love and understanding for the feelings of others.'

Luke cared about others and we care about him and it is tremendous to know his energy lives on in his Bursary. We will soon be announcing the opening for entries this year.

PASSION AT EASTER

The word passion has its root in the Latin word for to suffer, to endure. This connects to the word 'patience.' Patient is what you need to be when you make the commitments of real love. The Passion play was about the Easter story and the deep meaning of the Easter story is that love and suffering are invincible.

When you love another human being you begin to make sacrifices on many levels. Maybe above all, you sacrifice freedom. If you don't want pain then perhaps that is why you cannot allow yourself to love. And if you can't love what is left?

This Easter we thank all of you who continue to show your love for Luke by your pledges and donations that have already been sent to us for this year's Bursary.

The deep well of inner hopelessness that we felt when Luke died has become more manageable. Your enthusiasm and supportive messages help us to feel energised. Thank you for cocooning us with your shared emotional strength.

We wish you all a happy time at Easter and will look forward to seeing some you at the launch of our fifth Bursary winner's book Lacey's House by Joanne Graham in May.

 

SYMBOLIC COMMUNICATION

 

To experience the external presence of someone you love and who loves you evokes feelings of warmth and safety. When that person dies you are left with internalised memories but no physical presence and therefore have to draw on these treasured memories for comfort. It is truly wonderful how many people who knew and loved Luke have shown boundless empathy enabling us to continue to allow Luke's presence to remain symbolically in our lives. His writing family of Bursary winners grows.

'All science has a mind dimension, or a meaning dimension. Science itself is a mental and meaning-based activity. Meaning (mind) can never be reduced to mechanics, or vice versa. The meaning of loss can only be measured on a mind dimension by empathy in a relationship and this requires attunement, or subjective resonance, between one mind and another.'

Martin Seager - Bad science and good mental health an article in Therapy Today.

Science alone does not provide all the answers, argues Martin Seager. We also need to acknowledge the contribution of the mind.

Connecting with this we are delighted to announce that

ANDREW BLACKMAN our first bursary winner is launching his latest book A VIRTUAL LOVE on 27THMarch 2013 in London the Legend Press website gives more details. The book deals with the changing nature of identity in the age of social media. What is your true self? A question that maybe we should all ask ourselves.

Progress

MARCH

Since the tragedy of Luke's untimely death in 2006 those of you who have supported us and followed this website will know we fought for five years to prove failure of care by the NHS. It was an emotionally draining time and has had an impact within our family that we are still trying to repair.

I remember being told by people in the medical profession that we would never be successful in what we were determined to do, bring the NHS to account for their failure of care. Our brilliant legal team secured for us what we felt had to be done, so that future lives would be saved, an admission of guilt.

It is a journey other people have also travelled and I believe there is a growing feeling of determination that we must be brave enough to complain if we believe things have not been managed in the best interest of the patients.

There are a growing number of articles in newspapers confirming that we have magnificent people in our country who have moral principles that uphold the belief that truth will win in the end. There is no point in meeting government targets if people are being allowed to die in the process.

People in the NHS who complain about low standards of care say "It's like Stalin's Russia - speak out and you're crushed." These are the words of Gary Walker, head of the NHS trust responsible for Lincoln County Hospital. He has been dismissed for speaking out about the abysmal care he saw and has suffered emotionally, mentally and financially for doing the honourable thing, exposing what the NHS were trying to cover up, as they did with Luke's case.

In The Daily Telegraph Max Pemberton wrote an article entitled "LET'S TALK SUICIDE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE". In it he expresses exactly what we feel about Luke's death. He said "For me the tragedy of suicide is that too often it is the ignorance and fear on the part of the doctors that prevents warning signs being picked up. It's not because they don't want to help, but because they lack the training and skill in how to tackle these difficult questions.

It seems if the NHS stopped spending vast sums of money defending their mistakes with teams of expensive lawyers some of this money could be used for training that is desperately needed.


 

AMAZON IS OFFERING THE BODY IS A TEMPLE AT A GREATLY
REDUCED PRICE 
- £3.36

Please buy copies now to give as presents for friend's birthdays, thank you gifts or any other reason you can think of. The royalties will help fund this year's bursary competition.

 

 

Ruth Dugdall, our second bursary winner, had this to say:

''With a deceptively light touch Luke Bitmead takes us into a world of gigolos and drug pushers, where love is at a price and pain is never far away. Sensitive and compelling, Bitmead's swansong novel is a triumph."

Ruth continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of Luke's Memorial Fund and will be launching another book herself soon. Our writing family is being brilliantly creative.

Last year's winner Joanne Graham has moved a step closer to her book being published.

We are thrilled to be able to display the captivating cover for our fifth Luke Bitmead Bursary Winner's book.

Legend Press will be publishing Lacey's House on 1 May 2013

ANOTHER YEAR TO MAKE MEANINGFUL BY TALKING MORE TO EACH OTHER.

We are a bit late with New Year greetings but they are sincerely sent to all our wonderful supporters and those of you who are interested in entering Luke's Bursary Competition Over the Christmas period some inspiring messages were sent about how Luke's Bursary is really encouraging new talent. Looking at the Legend Press website it is empowering to see the number of books that are there because of Luke's great idea. We are full of enthusiasm to make 2013 an exceptional year.

If you would like to send us a donation here are the details as to how you can do this:

By Post:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, C/o The Hanson Partnership LLP, Suite A Unit 16 Cirencester Office Park, Tetbury Road, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6JJ

Or pay by BACS/Internet transfer to:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund Account number 71543547 Sort code 40-05-26

If you pay tax please ask for a Gift Aid Form so we can claim from HMRC 25 pence for every £1 you donate

 

A picture of Luke with Hong Kong Harbour in the background

 

 

13 May 2012 Luke's 40th birthday.

Luke spent two years living in Hong Kong and Thailand doing research for The Body is a Temple. He worked as an electrician at the communications centre, and as a roofer at the new airport to support himself financially.

Progress

MARCH

Since the tragedy of Luke's untimely death in 2006 those of you who have supported us and followed this website will know we fought for five years to prove failure of care by the NHS. It was an emotionally draining time and has had an impact within our family that we are still trying to repair.

I remember being told by people in the medical profession that we would never be successful in what we were determined to do, bring the NHS to account for their failure of care. Our brilliant legal team secured for us what we felt had to be done, so that future lives would be saved, an admission of guilt.

It is a journey other people have also travelled and I believe there is a growing feeling of determination that we must be brave enough to complain if we believe things have not been managed in the best interest of the patients.

There are a growing number of articles in newspapers confirming that we have magnificent people in our country who have moral principles that uphold the belief that truth will win in the end. There is no point in meeting government targets if people are being allowed to die in the process.

People in the NHS who complain about low standards of care say "It's like Stalin's Russia - speak out and you're crushed." These are the words of Gary Walker, head of the NHS trust responsible for Lincoln County Hospital. He has been dismissed for speaking out about the abysmal care he saw and has suffered emotionally, mentally and financially for doing the honourable thing, exposing what the NHS were trying to cover up, as they did with Luke's case.

In The Daily Telegraph Max Pemberton wrote an article entitled "LET'S TALK SUICIDE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE". In it he expresses exactly what we feel about Luke's death. He said "For me the tragedy of suicide is that too often it is the ignorance and fear on the part of the doctors that prevents warning signs being picked up. It's not because they don't want to help, but because they lack the training and skill in how to tackle these difficult questions.

It seems if the NHS stopped spending vast sums of money defending their mistakes with teams of expensive lawyers some of this money could be used for training that is desperately needed.


 

AMAZON IS OFFERING THE BODY IS A TEMPLE AT A GREATLY
REDUCED PRICE -
 £3.36

Please buy copies now to give as presents for friend's birthdays, thank you gifts or any other reason you can think of. The royalties will help fund this year's bursary competition.

 

 

Ruth Dugdall, our second bursary winner, had this to say:

''With a deceptively light touch Luke Bitmead takes us into a world of gigolos and drug pushers, where love is at a price and pain is never far away. Sensitive and compelling, Bitmead's swansong novel is a triumph."

Ruth continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of Luke's Memorial Fund and will be launching another book herself soon. Our writing family is being brilliantly creative.

Last year's winner Joanne Graham has moved a step closer to her book being published.

We are thrilled to be able to display the captivating cover for our fifth Luke Bitmead Bursary Winner's book.

Legend Press will be publishing Lacey's House on 1 May 2013

ANOTHER YEAR TO MAKE MEANINGFUL BY TALKING MORE TO EACH OTHER.

We are a bit late with New Year greetings but they are sincerely sent to all our wonderful supporters and those of you who are interested in entering Luke's Bursary Competition Over the Christmas period some inspiring messages were sent about how Luke's Bursary is really encouraging new talent. Looking at the Legend Press website it is empowering to see the number of books that are there because of Luke's great idea. We are full of enthusiasm to make 2013 an exceptional year.

If you would like to send us a donation here are the details as to how you can do this:

By Post:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, C/o The Hanson Partnership LLP, Suite A Unit 16 Cirencester Office Park, Tetbury Road, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6JJ

Or pay by BACS/Internet transfer to:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund Account number 71543547 Sort code 40-05-26

If you pay tax please ask for a Gift Aid Form so we can claim from HMRC 25 pence for every £1 you donate
 

A picture of Luke with Hong Kong Harbour in the background

 

 

13 May 2012 Luke's 40th birthday.

Luke spent two years living in Hong Kong and Thailand doing research for The Body is a Temple. He worked as an electrician at the communications centre, and as a roofer at the new airport to support himself financially.

 

Winner of the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary announced

 

 

Unpublished author Joanne Graham from Exeter has been announced as the winner of the 2012 Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary, in an award ceremony in Central London last night. Joanne received a cheque for £2,500 as well as a publishing contract with Legend Press for her debut novel Lacey's House. The novel will be published Summer 2013.

Two additional prizes were awarded on the night to 2nd and 3rd place writers Stacey Matheson for her novel Hospital Corners and Andrew Stevens for his novel The Poet. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 10 authors by a judging panel including award-winning authors Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall, Luke's Mother Elaine Hanson, Philippa Graham and Tom Chalmers, Lucy Boguslawski and Lauren Parsons from Legend Press.

The bursary is funded by the Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, founded by Luke's family in association with Legend Press in 2006, shortly after Luke's tragic death at the age of just 34. Luke's book White Summer was the first novel to be published by Legend Press and Luke was one of the UK's most talented up-and-coming writers. Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke's name and memory lives on. The bursary, now in its fifth year, was set up to encourage and support the work of struggling talented writers, whose work is yet to be published. Previous winners of the award are: Andrew Blackman in 2008 for On the Holloway Road, Ruth Dugdall in 2009 for The Woman Before Me, Sophie Duffy in 2010 for The Generation Game and J.R. Crook in 2011 for Sleeping Patterns.

Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press, commented: "We are delighted to announce Joanne Graham as the winner of this year's Bursary. Lacey's House is a beautifully evocative and powerful novel, with great commercial potential and we very much look forward to working with Joanne in the run up to publication next year. The judges were enthralled by Joanne's engaging writing style, and felt readers would be gripped by her powerful narrative style."

Luke's mother, Elaine Hanson commented: "The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund has been set up for two reasons, firstly to give support to unpublished fledgling writers, particularly those who have striven to work through the disempowering feelings of anxiety and depression. Secondly to eradicate the stigma that prevents mental health problems being discussed openly enabling support and understanding. With the rock solid support of Legend Press it feels as if we are helping to encourage creativity and inspire openness and compassion which must help generate a healthier environment for us all. It is brilliant to see this is working as demonstrated by our four Bursary winners who now say they are living their lives with more self-belief. Writing can be solitary work and we can see how another opportunity that the Bursary provides is for writers to be in touch with likeminded people helping them gain confidence in developing their talent. A creative society is a healthy society."

  

[IMG_0605]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE LUKE BITMEAD BURSARY 2012

 

As we anticipated it was a meeting full of energy to discover whether we would agree who from our wonderful selection of finalists would receive Luke's Bursary this year.   The judging panel is well balanced with six people who bring different aspects of their professional qualifications and life experience to the table.   Again everyone's voice was heard and after several hours with vigorous debates we were unanimous in our decision.

 

THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THURSDAY 29TH NOVEMBER 2012 at a presentation in London.

 

Here is our second Bursary winner RUTH DUGDALL who sent us this powerful, spontaneous message.

I have just come back from talking to 40 people about how the bursary changed my life, so I'm just going to channel some of the raw emotion that I'm feeling right now:

"Winning the Luke Bitmead Bursary literally saved my life. I hadn't left my bed for a whole week and I had just about abandoned hope of ever seeing my novel in print! I'd faced years of rejections and had my dreams of being published dashed countless times, so winning meant - and still means - everything to me. Establishing the bursary in memory of her son, Elaine Hanson has done a wonderful thing. Long may it thrive."

 

Below are ANDREW BLACKMAN'S reflections on what winning meant to him.   Andrew was our first winner, five years ago and it is part of the whole essence of Luke's Fund that we stay in touch with each other and give support to each other when we are able.

 

"From a distance of four years, I can say that the Bursary was really the breakthrough that changed the whole direction of my writing career. Beyond the money and the publishing deal for On the Holloway Road, winning the prize enabled me to start thinking of myself as a professional writer. I now have an agent, a second novel due out in April, and a third in the works. I know I am lucky, because I come across so many good writers with good ideas who just can't get a publishing deal. Winning the Bursary gave me a wonderful start, and now I feel that I am on my way."

 

More Bursary winner's reflections soon.

 

November

 

JUDGING PANEL MEETING

This Thursday 22nd November the judging panel will be meeting to decide this year's winner of the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary.

We are all bubbling with excitement and anticipation of a dynamic meeting when we can discuss the finalists books.

The words of Ben Sweetland seem appropriate:

"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own."

It has been a privilege to read new work by, as yet unknown, writers.

During the days leading up to the presentation on the 29th November we will be posting thoughts from our four Bursary winners saying how it has made a difference to their lives.

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR ELEVEN
FINALISTS FOR THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS
BURSARY 2012

This year for the first time we have eleven writers as one of the books chosen was written by two people.   It is a scintillating array of books written by exceptional people who have found a way to overcome the difficulties that have been strewn in their way.   To complete a novel is an achievement in itself.    We feel privileged to have received entries from not only talented people but people with courage and determination.

The personal statements and books have now been sent to the rest of the judging panel who will meet later in November at Legend Press's offices to have what will no doubt be a lively meeting to decide on this year's winner.

Thank you to everyone that entered and we wish you well for the future.   You will all be welcome to come to the presentation as we know how helpful and inspiring it can be talking to fellow writers.

  

Friday 26thOctober 2012

Shortlist
for 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary announced

Legend Press are delighted to announce the 10 shortlisted authors for the 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary. Set up in memory of Legend Press' first ever published novelist the award, now its fifth year, supports the work of struggling unpublished authors.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Central London later this year. The winning author will receive £2500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press for 2013 for their submitted novel.

The 10 shortlisted authors are:

William Thacker -Hanger Lane

Stacey Matheson -Hospital Corners

Catherine Strong -Ginza

Beda Higgins -Dweeb

Matthew Small -Death by Candlelight

Pauline Crame -The Affairs of Gods

Joanne Graham -Lacey's House

Andrew Stevens -The Poet

Luke Tredget -Elation

Neil John Pearce & Rebbecca Bennett -Nemesis

 

 

 Tom Chalmers, Lucy Boguslawski and Lauren Parsons from Legend Press, Luke's Mother Elaine Hanson, Philippa Graham and award-winning authors Sam Mills and Ruth Dugdall.

The award will be judged by

The Luke Bitmead Bursary was founded by Luke's family, in association with Legend Press, shortly after Luke's tragic death in 2006 at the age of just 34. Luke's book White Summer was the first novel to be published by Legend Press and Luke was one of the UK's most talented up-and-coming writers. Legend Press are delighted to be working with Luke's family to ensure that Luke's name and memory lives on. Previous winners of the award are: Andrew Blackman in 2008 for On the Holloway Road, Ruth Dugdall in 2009 for The Woman Before Me, Sophie Duffy in 2010 for The Generation Gameand J.R. Crook in 2011 for Sleeping Patterns.

Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of Legend Press commented:'We were delighted with this year's shortlist and are happy to celebrate 5 years of running this deserving bursary with Luke's family. Writing a novel is often a challenging and isolating activity and Luke would have loved the positivity and support the award gives to struggling and talented writers. We look forward to choosing our winning author from our brilliant shortlist.'

 

OCTOBER

Legend Press are progressing with the reading of the entries for this year's Bursary and I know there is an excited buzz around the office.   This year's finalists will be announced on 26th October.   We always try and remember Luke and his determination to give a Bursary to fledgling writers around the time that is inevitably painful for us.   It is important, I feel, to emulate his determination with our own and to feel the status of the Bursary growing echo's our pride in Luke. We will be having our judging panel meeting on 22nd November when we will choose our fifth winner. It gives me a tingle of excitement to say that and to know that Luke's writing family continues to grow is superb.

 

SEPTEMBER

We felt very proud to watch Phil Robinson complete the half marathon that he ran in the New Forest.    It was certainly a challenge as the weather conditions were atrocious. Torrential rain and turbulent winds slowed many of the runners so it was stupendous to see Phil achieve a personal best 1hr 52mins 14secs.   Many congratulations and a huge thank you for the money you have raised for The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund.   We know Phil hasn't quite achieved his target so we have left the Gift Aid Page open for more donations until 27th October the 6th anniversary of Luke's untimely death.   It would be brilliant if a little more could be achieved and as I keep repeating if more people gave a little we would achieve the funds needed for the Bursary by strength of numbers rather than a few very generous people.   Surely this is what gives empowerment, knowing many people care and together we can achieve a society where we all help each other.   It was heart warming to see each of our previous Bursary winners gave a donation displaying so beautifully the ethos of Luke's Fund.

 AUGUST

INSPIRING OLYMPICS AND SELF KNOWLEDGE                                                                                         

In July I asked for help as health problems were draining my energy.   I felt like a fire had died down in me and all that remained were glowing embers but no flame.   I needed fuel and after asking for help fuel came in lorry loads, not only dry logs but also a good splash of petrol that soon created an amazing blaze.

One of my blind spots has been thinking I must do it myself and that it is a sign of failure to show I am not managing.   Now with deeper self knowledge and also surrounding myself with people whose core values echo my own I am freer to ask and ready to be asked in return.

Our talented four Bursary winners Andrew Blackman, Ruth Dugdall, Sophie Duffy and J. R. Crook have all helped promote the competition we hold annually and it is thrilling to hear from Legend Press that this year we have more entries than ever together with inspiring stories in the personal statements.    Reading of the entries has started and when Legend have selected the final ten the panel of judges will meet to select our winner for this year.   We hope to be presenting late November early December.   My part focuses on the personal statements and I am greatly looking forward to reading them.   Thank you to everyone who has entered.

HALF MARATHON MAN RUNS FOR LUKE

For those of you who regularly visit Luke's website you will have heard me talk about Phil Robinson before as he gave a beautiful eulogy for Luke at his funeral.   He has a meaningful way with words and is a talented musician and song writer.   A man with heart and soul combined with sensitivity.   You may imagine my surprise when he said he was going to run a half marathon for Luke. What a revelation he also has strong legs and is in training as I write this !!!

 

This will tell you more of the story and a really easy way to donate plus an opportunity to leave an encouraging quote.   There are already some amusing ones.   We really value every pound and I have always felt if more people would give a little we would reach the sum we need every year more easily.   If however you would like to sponsor Phil for a large amount then please do!

You may remember the cries of FLY MO when Mo Farrah ran so superbly at the Olympics winning two gold medals, well now the chant is FLY PHIL.

More exciting news to follow soon.

 

 

 

BURSARY PRESENTATION

 

Our fourth Bursary presentation was a wonderful evening with a splendid gathering of like minded people.   Thank you to everyone who has sent cards, letters and emails saying how much they enjoyed being with us.   It is particularly delightful to have received this message from our winner JAMIE CROOK who says

Reflections on Winning the Luke Bitmead Bursary:
 

You have to become very insular when writing, because if you allow yourself a moment in which to glimpse the outside world, or to reflect upon the fact that you're spending years on something that in all probability won't amount to anything, then self-doubt will start to creep in.  It was quite early on during the six years I spent writing my novel, Sleeping Patterns, that I felt the notion of one day 'becoming published' slipping away from view.  It is for this reason that my winning the Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary came as such a surprise.  It is now one month later and I am still feeling that sense of surprise.  I suppose that after having denied myself the pleasure of dreaming about becoming published for so long, I am now playing catch up with the idea that it is actually happening.  I am thrilled to have won and am very much looking forward to working with Legend Press in the coming months.  Winning the Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary and meeting all of the passionate people who surround it, has reminded me of something fundamental that I had known at the start, only I had forgotten somewhere along the way; that writing can still hold some currency in the 'real world', after all.  And considering how cold and uncaring the publishing industry can often appear to be, that is something very rare indeed.  This bursary scheme is important in so many ways and it is something that I am very proud to now be associated with.

We wish you all a Christmas that brings fun and laughter as well as peace and tranquillity.   We are extremely appreciative that we get encouragement from a wide range of people and we will continue to work knowing we have your support.   

 

Elaine Hanson

For those of you unable to be at the award
ceremony here is my speech, and congratulations
to the winner 

 

Jamie Crook

For his book

Sleeping Patterns

Jamie with the judging panel receiving his cheque
for £2,500

 

 

Second place was awarded to

Joanna Gokce

Third place was awarded to

Mike Griffiths

 

It is with immense pride that I am here this evening to present the fourth bursary in memory of my ingenious son Luke.   As many of you will know it was his idea to give a bursary for fledgling writers to encourage and support fresh talent that is waiting to be discovered.     Luke achieved many things in his short life and one of them was to find an enthusiastic, dynamic publisher Tom Chalmers who has embraced the idea of this Writers' Bursary.   Together with the conscientious work of Lucy and Lauren who had hundreds of entries to read and assess, we are growing in confidence that Luke's Bursary is proving to be a valuable opportunity to gain recognition in the literary world.   Tonight we have two of our previous winners here with us Andrew Blackman - On The Holloway Road and Sophie Duffy - The Generation Game.   They are here with their books and I am sure they will be happy to sign any books that are purchased tonight.   Ruth Dugdall our second winner and who is now on our panel of judges, had to have a three hour operation last week and is frustrated that she has been told by her surgeon she must rest.   I am sure you will all join with me in wishing her a speedy and full recovery.

This year it has been a huge relief for me and my husband to achieve some sort of resolution in what has taken five years of emotionally draining work.   The NHS finally gave up trying to defend the indefensible and agreed mistakes were made in Luke's care.   Here is a quote from their letter written by the Chief Executive of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:-   She says -

  "Firstly, I would like to extend my sincere condolences for the loss of your son and apologise for the failures in care which have been identified as a result of the investigations following Luke's death.

You will be aware that an in-depth review has been undertaken by the Trust into the care provided to Luke.   Following the investigation changes have been made and lessons learned which should hopefully prevent similar mistakes being made again.

I would also like to apologise for the distress and psychiatric injury which you have suffered following Luke's death, and the events leading up to it."

For me, Luke's Mother it has been enormously healing to receive these words of truth and openness.   Strength and justice are the products of a steady heart.   I no longer carry the burden of resentment because I forgive those who made mistakes but equally I hope I have demonstrated injustices cannot be allowed to continue and to hear that changes have been made is extremely important.

I find it appalling however that the NHS spent so much time and money trying to avoid their responsibility for Luke's death.   Now we know changes have been made I feel we have given honour to Luke and meaning to his untimely death.   We can all take pride from the knowledge that we have helped to advance the understanding of the complexities of mental health care.   I believe we all have our part to play in becoming less materialistic and more aware of what is required to allow your heart to sing and the hearts of others also.   So much in the world is banal and people gather the same things, possessions, to make themselves feel good.   Wouldn't it be better to uncover things with soul that inspire and enrich our lives?

Books, I believe, are a hugely important part of how we live our lives.   To have books we need writers who have the talent to share thoughts and ideas with others by vocalising on paper and creating imagery for others to interpret in whatever way feels right for them. Books give us the opportunity for deeper self-knowledge and deeper self-fulfilment which is perhaps what we are all seeking.

 

Luke's death has shown me clearly how to live differently.

Jung said "The birth of the personality in oneself has a therapeutic value.   It is as if a river that had run to waste in sluggish side streams and marshes suddenly found its way back to its proper bed, or as if a stone lying on a germinating seed were lifted away so that the shoot could begin its natural growth.   The inner voice is the voice of a fuller life, of a wider, more comprehensive consciousness.

Insightful words.

Next year 2012 we will be publishing the first book Luke wrote The Body is a Temple.   It is a book I am hugely proud of for many reasons.   Working Title showed interested in making it into a film but that wasn't to be at that time maybe it could happen this time round.   Over to you Tom !!   In life we have to discover how to be patient.   To discover how to manage the trauma of Luke's untimely death is something I continue to work on.   Knowing I have a growing band of like minded people around me is wonderfully strengthening.   A supportive husband who looks after the Memorial Funds finances superbly.   A growing number of Bursary winners who I feel so proud of when I read about the excellent reviews their books are receiving and the sales being achieved.   Unexpected donations that seem to arrive just when I am getting anxious about raising enough money for the next Bursary.   I think Tom was also relieved to know he wouldn't be cycling to Paris to raise money.   Well not this year but maybe next.    Incredibly somebody completely unexpectedly rowed into my life.   I say rowed slightly tongue in cheek because she happens to be a Cambridge Rowing Blue.   She read White Summer and decided to look on Luke's website where she spotted a picture of me at a book signing with Luke.   She recognised me from the Swan our village pub where parts of White Summer were written.   Her sensitivity about my tragedy has been boundless and her exceptional sense of humour has taught me that I can laugh again while still remembering Luke with respect.   I wanted to thank her publicly so she will be in no doubt as to how much I value having her in my life and I thank Luke for sending her to me.    Now she is on our judging panel and working on ideas to help raise funds for next year. 

 Luke has made sure we have a wonderful legacy to work with that allows us to remember him in a creative way and this of course was how he led his life, creatively.    I feel honoured to be amongst so many talented people this evening and thank you to everyone for enabling this atmosphere of achievement to permeate the room.

Terence Conran, one of Britain's most significant modern designers was asked the question "Ambition or talent: which matters more to success ?"    His response "One is useless without the other.   Perhaps it should be called vision."   I end by wishing you all - vision.

 

 

THE FINALISTS FOR THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS' BURSARY ARE

 

SUE  JACKSON  -  FOUR LEFT FEET

MIKE GRIFFITHS  -  ONE DAY I HAD A HICCUP

JULIET YOUNG  -  THE-HOUSE-BY-THE-SEA

STEVE MORRIS  -  THE YOGA SUTRAS            

 CHRIS HILL  -  THE PICK UP ARTIST

JOANNA GOKCE  -  THE RIVER HOUSE

JAMIE CROOK  -  SLEEPING PATTERNS

REBECCA MUDDIMAN  -  STOLEN

 

Congratulations to our eight finalists who are in no particular order.

We are greatly looking forward to our presentation night on Thursday 1st December 2011. It will be exciting to meet our finalists in person.  It seems as if we have been introduced to each of them by reading their personal statements and feel sure we can confidently anticipate a vibrant evening talking with animated people.

 

LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS' BURSARY 2011

  

 

It has certainly been a challenging year.    Following our legal team's triumph with Luke's case I have now received a letter of apology from the NHS.   I intend to share a little of this at the presentation of Luke's Fourth Bursary on the 1st December 2011.   As you can see there is an invitation posted here inviting the supporters of Luke's Fund to join with us in celebrating the opportunity that another fledgling writer will be awarded.     The exhilarating prize that will move their writing career forward is a publishing contract with Legend Press and a cheque for £2,500.   We will also give second and third prizes plus a cheque for £100 to each of the runners up,   Please reply to Lucy if you wish to accept this invitation to join us. I hope that by posting this on Luke's website everyone that has encouraged us over five years will know they are welcome and nobody will feel forgotten.

Our meeting to decide on the winner allowed different views to be expressed, opinions given, heard and challenged.   Our panel comprised of Tom Chalmers, Lucy Boguslawski and Lauren Parsons all from Legend Press, Sam Mills successful writer with wonderful generosity of spirit and supportive friend of Luke's.   Ruth Dugdall our second Bursary winner whose career has flourished since she won and is now an enthusiastic supporter determined to help us grow in status, Philippa Graham linguist, Cambridge rowing blue, well travelled and read who we met through her enthusiasm for the books we have already published.  Philippa has also given us some great ideas for fund raising.   As always my part was to look closely at the personal statements with regard also as to how Luke would feel about the stories of people's difficulties in overcoming hardship to achieve their dream of becoming a published writer.   It is always hard to choose the winner amongst so many worthy and talented entrants.

 

IMMENSE RELIEF

 

Thursday 27th October 2011 is the fifth anniversary of Luke's death.   We have spent the last nearly five years fighting to prove that Luke's care was inadequate and the right care would have enabled him to continue his life, for how long we do not know but he should not have died when he did.   This has now been proved.

It has been a gruelling time.   Five years of uncertainty has added to our grief.   The brilliance of our legal team coupled with our determination has brought us to the place where we can now rest.   The NHS has admitted Breach of Duty and they have acknowledged my psychological injury due to the traumatic events surrounding Luke's death.   This means that we no longer have to read and reread the statements describing Luke's death to make sure we were accurate in all we had said.   I will receive a letter of apology in due course.

It seems totally wrong that grieving parents should be forced to go through this lengthy and re traumatising procedure when it was clear from the moment Luke died that mistakes had been made.   We hope that now there is improved training in place enabling deeper understanding of people who have attempted suicide and the stigma surrounding mental health problems we hope,  has been reduced.

We now turn to progressing the positive way of remembering Luke by continuing to give The Luke Bitmead Writers' Bursary and on Thursday 27th October 2011 we will be meeting with Legend Press to discuss the entries for this year.   We have two new talented members on our judging panel and I am sure we will have some lively discussion to bring us closer to discovering this year's winner.

We thank everyone who has entered and I understand from Legend Press and particularly Lauren who has been doing a great deal of reading, that the standard is high and there is an exciting variety of writing styles.

More news soon.

 

Elaine Hanson

 

REMEMBERING

                                                                     

11th September 2011

Today we remember all the people who lost their lives at the World Trade Centre in New York.   I remember coming home early from work on that day.    Luke and I had planned to go clothes shopping for him.   As I arrived home the front door opened and Luke's shocked face called out "Have you heard?"   Yes I had.   Luke immediately said; "Let's forget shopping."   Instead we stayed at home and watched the horrific news.   Luke was kind, compassionate and not particularly interested in material things.   He cared more about people.  

 

Thank you to all those people who send messages and give me support in remembering him.

 

Elaine Hanson

 

 

REVELATION                                        September 2011

Again there has been a long gap since I last posted news on Luke's website and I now feel it is right to explain why.   This is something I didn't want to do but my opinion has changed and now it feels important for me to be open and honest with all the people who have followed Luke's story and supported us in giving a Bursary in memory of Luke every year.

 

THE NHS HAVE ADMITTED BREACH OF DUTY.   LUKE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DETAINED UNTIL A FULL ASSESSMENT COULD BE MADE.

 

We received this news 3rd February 2011 and it was a huge relief.  We believed our fight was over and now we could attend to our grief knowing we had reached the truth finally.   It had taken since 27th October 2006 and had constantly prayed on our minds as to whether we would be able to prove Luke's care had been inadequate.   We thought we had achieved this at the Inquest.   The Coroner said the Inquest was not a court of blame but there were questions that would need to be asked at another Court.   Yes there certainly were.

Blame, I believe doesn't achieve anything.   There is however a very real need to own mistakes, learn by them and do what is possible to prevent them being repeated.   Our first realisation that the NHS were attempting to avoid looking at the reasons for Luke's death and acknowledge what could have been managed better was when my husband telephoned to find out what was happening with regard to our complaint about Luke's care.   This was five months after Luke's death and we were both in a deeply distressed, traumatised place.   You may imagine how this escalated when we were told no complaint had been logged!!!!!    

 

On the day Luke died, as we stood by his side bracing ourselves to agree to turning off his life support equipment    -    it was for me as his Mother to make this decision -   I nodded, everything was turned off.    Chris said "He's gone."    I felt frozen with disbelief. I couldn't cry. I couldn't speak.   I just stood there utterly traumatised by the sight of my handsome, charismatic and talented son who I had left the night before saying "I'll see you in the morning" who was now DEAD.   NO  this could not be.   It was a horrible nightmare and I would wake up in a minute.    Amazing Chris, Luke's Step Father immediately grasped the whole situation and said   "I want to make a complaint and I want it logged now."    The complaint wasn't logged and we discovered this five months later.

 

The last, nearly five years of our lives, have revolved around working with our determined legal team to make sure that care for people with mental health problems is attended to and not left to fester and grow while physical wounds are healed.   The whole person needs treatment.   Luke's physical damage would not have been there if his psychological wound had not been overwhelmingly painful and unmanageable.   As for my psychological wounds following my son's tragic and untimely death?   Fortunately I work in a profession where my colleagues have alerted me to making sure I sought treatment.   I am attending to this while the NHS are working out with their legal advisors whether in fact I have any psychological injury following the horrendous events of my son's death.   Remembering of course that Luke gave me away when I married Chris the year before, making a wonderful speech and telling me he would wheel me round the super market in my old age.   Luke and I had an amazing relationship.   He typed my essays for me when I was qualifying as a Psychodynamic Counsellor and I encouraged his talent as a writer being part of the team that celebrated the publishing of White Summer.   And he dedicated the book to me.   A novel that several of the nurses that treated Luke had read.    I remember some truly dedicated people who cared for Luke.   The amazing senior consultant who engaged with Luke and showed her humanity as well as her enormous talent and expertise.    I will never forget her.   The psychiatrist who had left everything in place for Luke to be sectioned to keep him safe if need be.   The young doctor who also really engaged with Luke and stayed later to make sure his hand over was as complete as possible.   These people have also been let down.

When I started writing I intended this to be a short post to enable you to understand why I write enthusiastically about positive steps forward and then go quiet.   It's because I return to the place of abject grief as my ability to cope with the heartlessness of the NHS becomes too much to contend with.   I value all the amazing people who have helped me to keep fighting for Luke but it seems wrong that I should need to fight.   The NHS should be about kindness, compassion and empathy intertwined with amazing advancements in technology.   The thought "Should our head rule our heart?"   The article in the FT Magazine The Shrink and The Sage expressed what I have been struggling with and I quote "Without any input from emotion or feeling, reason is merely a cold, mechanical method of calculation" and "a good head knows when to get out of the heart's way."

I am now in the position of having to prove that Luke's death has caused me a psychological injury.   There is much research about the damage done to the family of the person who committed suicide maybe the NHS could read that rather than put me in the position of having to go through the last days of Luke's life and the fight I have had with proving that his death was avoidable,  at the time he died.   The re traumatising it seems to me is not necessary.   "Nor can moral reasoning get off the ground without any empathic understanding of the welfare of others."   I quote Julian Baggini who with Antonia Macaro wrote the article that has helped me express my feelings.

To improve the care that is available to people with mental health problems is my deep wish and for us all to show those who we are in relationship with how we value them is paramount.

 

 

Sophie Duffy's Book THE GENERATION GAME launched on 21st July 2011

Wonderful to see Sophie with husband and three children celebrating the launch of her book in London.   She will also be having another launch party in Torbay.   It is certainly a book deserving of two launches.   The full story will be told soon plus others of continued generosity supporting Luke's Fund.   Thank you to everyone who continues to follow Luke's story.   We have received validation for our determination to reveal the need for more understanding of mental health care.  

 

 

Authenticity

 

I looked in Luke's Thesaurus at the word authenticity it was just above the word author.   I was looking for a word to describe Ruth Dugdall who was our second Bursary winner.   It is the right word to describe what Ruth has, authenticity.   Her progress has been spectacular since she won Luke's Bursary and it is awe inspiring to see her meteoric rise in the literary world.   The Women Before Me continues to sell extremely well and now her second book The Sacrificial Man has been acclaimed as another great read.   This success not only takes great talent but also a huge amount of energy promoting herself with Radio interviews, book signings and talks to book clubs.   Amongst all this she has a husband and two children to give time to.   It would be unsurprising if I never heard from her but in fact I hear from her frequently.   She lets me know how things are developing since winning the Bursary and this I really appreciate, to feel a little involved with her career.   It helps to make the huge space left by Luke a little less.   A couple of weeks ago she let me know she was being interviewed on Radio Oxford, Wednesday afternoon.   I was at work Wednesday morning then flew around the super market, thank you to the lovely New Zealand lady whose fingers flew to get my shopping all checked out in record time, so I was home to hear Ruth.   Ruth was eloquent talking about her writing career and describing the difference that winning Luke's Bursary had made to her when she was on the point of giving up trying to get published.   Legend Press publishing both her books has helped her have more confidence in her ability to have a career as a writer.   A few days later I heard from Ruth again to say she was giving a talk to a book group at their Festival Meeting and they had asked her for a charity of her choice as she didn't require a fee.   It has certainly done a huge amount to lift my spirits to hear she had chosen The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund and we will be receiving a cheque in due course.   Only love heals grief and I want to say that Ruth is not only an extremely talented writer but a truly beautiful person. Her personal kindness and sensitivity to me is valued enormously and has helped recharge my emotional batteries.

 

Another story of generosity will be told soon.

 

Elaine Hanson

BUOYED UP AGAIN 

7th July 2011

When destructive things happen you are thrown back on your resources.   Part of everyone's resources should be your family and friends.   When there is failure in what you thought were resources the feeling of being let down exacerbates the original trauma and the psychological place you are left in becomes unmanageable.
 

I remember Luke saying he felt as if life for him was like running UP the down escalator.   No matter how hard he worked he felt he was unable to make sufficient progress.   Part of me his Mother has been feeling something similar.   The appalling mistakes made in Luke's Case keep coming back to haunt me and it has been difficult to post news here.

 

Now with the honest integrity and support of genuine people I am on the up escalator again going UP.   Over the next few days I will be telling some truly heart lifting stories of people who have rallied in a creative way to help Luke's Fund continue to develop and expand.

 

Elaine Hanson

 

INSPIRATIONAL

                                               

When I asked for people to visit Luke's Site before his birthday in the hope of reaching 13,000 visitors I could not be sure we would be able to achieve this.   Two days before it wasn't looking good so I sent a few emails.   It was both stimulating and motivating to receive original, inventive ideas as to means of attracting people to Luke's Site.

It was particularly delightful that our Bursary winners showed their creativeness and immediately leapt into action.    Andrew Blackman posted blog on his website explaining about Luke's Bursary and recommending other writers to enter.   Ruth Dugdall posted it on Twitter and Facebook, sending me beautiful encouraging words, several times!!     Sophie Duffy emailed me before I had time to send her a message, giving her support and saying how powerfully she had been affected by winning the bursary and is now feeling more motivated.   Fantastic.   These and other encouraging and empathic messages certainly brought enlightenment to a day that understandably can be filled with foreboding for me.

Suddenly it felt as if we were really celebrating Luke's life with this wonderfully positive job he has left us to do.   Tom Chalmers emailed to say his great team Lucy and Lauren had been asking if we were going to announce this year's Bursary on the 13th May as usual……………………………Help I thought, can we do this?   It has all come round very quickly as our presentation to Sophie Duffy was only in January delayed this year partly because Luke's Case still fills my head.    I am proud to say Legend Press announced the fourth LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY on his birthday.   A huge thank you to them and their administrative skills.

For me to know we are building something wonderful in Luke's name is amazingly healing and I thank you all.   It was delightful to visit Luke's grave and put gorgeous flowers, say a few words about how much he is missed and then remember the joy of Luke by playing Pooh sticks at the river, as Luke used to do.   All this was done with an extremely supportive friend who works hard to keep awareness of Luke's Fund growing and will be joining us on the judging panel this year.

It is great to hear from Tom Chalmers that they have already had many entries and of course we will be looking forward to receiving many more before entries close in August.   We wish all fledgling writers an inspiring summer and we will relish the thought of meeting the finalists in October.

 

Elaine Hanson

FRIDAY 13th MAY LUKE'S 39th BIRTHDAY

 

On Friday it will be Luke's 39th birthday.   We continue to miss him in a way words can't express.   It helps wonderfully to see the steady flow of visitors to his website even though there hasn't been fresh news for some time.

We are continuing to work with our legal team and have made huge achievements with improving mental health care and understanding of this difficult state when people behave in a way that is difficult to manage.   I confess that at this moment I am feeling wiped out as managing the negative attitude of others continues to impede our progress but we will stay determined and thank the many who stay in touch with encouraging words and donations for the next Bursary

It would be awe inspiring if we could reach a total of thirteen thousand visitors to Luke's site by 13th May, his birthday.  Those of you who knew Luke will remember how he always noticed and enjoyed synchronicity in numbers and please may I ask you to lift our spirits in knowing Luke continues to be remembered by many so this week the numbers may reach THIRTEEN THOUSAND.

Since Luke's death many compassionate people have supported Luke's Memorial Fund. Their humanitarian attitude, displayed by their tender words of comfort have strengthened our resolve to continue to work to show how our devastating tragedy has created something wonderfully positive.   This has demonstrated so clearly how if we love one another and show this love with our actions we can create an opportunity to discover a better way to live.

These admirable words by Jacques Decour aged 32, a French intellectual shot by the Nazis in 1942 carry an inspirational message. 

"Now each of us is preparing to die …………

This is truly the moment to remember love.

Did we love enough?   Did we spend hours a day

marveling at other people, being happy together,

feeling the value of contact?   Did we know how to devote ourselves to tenderness?

Because there is nothing else".

  

Elaine Hanson

 

 THE THIRD WINNER OF THE LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY IS

SOPHIE DUFFY for her novel

THE GENERATION GAME

 

Second Prize was awarded to Alexandra Singer for her novel Tea at the Grand Tazi

 

Third Prize was awarded to Duncan Abel for his novel The Way Home

 

The presentation night at Waterstone's in Piccadilly in January proved to be an evening that brought a growing depth of meaning to the way we remember Luke.   We were told it was the best yet but my feeling was that each of our presentation nights has been extremely special.   The first with Andrew Blackman, our first winner, that nobody could find, and when his name was announced he appeared from behind a pillar blinking in disbelief.   All writers have experienced rejections.   It is part of the process and it was tremendous to be part of Andrew's much deserved moment of realisation that he was going to be published.   This is an extract from the message he sent me this year.   "It was a lovely evening.   The bursary is indeed growing in status.   This time it really felt like something long-running, something permanent.   As the very first winner I felt a bit of a relic!"   Andrew is feeling close to the end of writing his next novel and we will post more news when we receive it.   And as for relic.  I think not.

 

Our second bursary winner Ruth Dugdall has progressed with great speed since her presentation night and has shared so generously with me how much winning helped reignite her enthusiasm to make writing her career.   Her idea that what we are creating is 'Luke's Writing Family'  has been particularly comforting to me as having to come to terms with the death of a child it has been so good to know my son lives on in this remarkable way.   Ruth has great generosity of Spirit and when she handed me a present, that is a notebook, with the words "I bought it thinking you could start making notes about the book you will inevitably write" I had to blink back a tear or to.   Knowing people believe in you is what we all aspire to.   Ruth will be publishing a further novel with Legend Press in June.             

Now we are focused on supporting our third winner Sophie Duffy who had traveled from Devon with her husband.   It proved to be an emotional presentation as Sophie has had the experience of the death of her Father by suicide when she was ten.   It felt as if there was an immediate connection as we both blinked back tears and acknowledged how good it felt to know we could talk about our loss and know it was alright to show emotion.   Her husband, who is in PR, immediately had ideas for the promotion of Sophie's book and Luke's Memorial Fund.   It was captivating to see Andrew, Ruth and Sophie all talking to each other in a way that writers do with the unspoken words of mutual understanding that body language alone can express.   

 

I spoke to Tom Chalmers a few days ago and he said "We are all incredibly excited about launching the latest Bursary Winner, THE GENERATION GAME by SOPHIE DUFFY.   It is great to see the book and Sophie already being covered in the press and we are convinced the Bursary has found us yet another winner."

 

Luke certainly found himself a winner in Tom who has been a constant source of energy and enthusiasm during some of my darkest hours.   His latest idea is to help us with fund raising by doing a sponsored run and he seems to have persuaded Lucy and Lauren to run as well.   Tom and Tiffany have already had a meeting to discuss this and other ways of helping to keep Luke's Bursary Fund growing.

 

Knowing we started developing Luke's idea to help people who were being particularly challenged by their personal circumstances it feels really important to tell you about Alexandra Singer.   She arrived with her family who helped her get to the top floor of Waterstone's in her wheelchair.   Alex had been in a coma for three months and had to change her career path from studying law to developing her writing talent.   Alex and I have exchanged emails and I wanted to share these words from her with you.   "Just back now to extreme physiotherapy and submitting to publishers and agents - now boosted hugely by Luke's award that 'Tea at the Grand Tazi' is something people would like to read.   I really can't stress how much it means to me - getting up every day and being cheerful, doing exercises despite pain, keeping hopeful about walking - it is difficult, especially in winter and so going away for a few days with my family, being awarded the 2nd prize and meeting you all, has made a big difference."

 

It is so meaningful for us to know that in honour of our greatly missed son Luke we are doing something positive in his name and thank you to everyone who has supported us in many different ways.   We look forward to the year ahead with growing energy and enthusiasm knowing we are surrounded by a growing band of wonderfully positive people.

 

Elaine Hanson

 

 

 

THE THIRD LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS' BURSARY PRESENTATION 20th JANUARY 2011 WATERSTONES PICADILLY.

For all our wonderful supporters, here are the words I shall be saying tonight before we announce our winner. Your support is invaluable so we wanted to help you feel part of this important evening.

Luke left us a rich legacy that I, his Mother with Tiffany, Luke's sister feel privileged to be the caretakers of.    It feels awe-inspiring to be standing here knowing we will be announcing our third bursary winner and giving a publishing deal that will change a manuscript into a book that will be on the shelves of book stores.   I know very well how tough this can be and have had wonderfully appreciative feedback from Andrew Blackman who wrote on the Holloway Road our first winner and Ruth Dugdall last year's winner with her gripping The Woman Before Me.   It is gratifying to hear how they are progressing with their writing careers and knowing it was Luke's Bursary that has brought them the recognition they both richly deserved, brings us great pleasure.

Last year 2010, after a four year wait, we received the news that the Inquest for Luke would be held in July.   It was a huge relief to know that after our long anxious time, we would be able to give our evidence and hear the evidence of others.    After five days of trying to contain our emotions so we could listen and make sense of all that was said we felt unsurprisingly, emotionally drained.   The press did an amazing job reporting on Luke's case on the television news, radio and in the papers.   We felt enormously supported and to see the exceptional rise in numbers of visitors to Luke's website, certainly helped to lift our spirits.   Thank you.    Knowing that many people cared about the tragedy of Luke's death has given us the determination to fight on even when some people have suggested we should "move on with our lives."   I found that suggestion particularly appalling.    It was as if Luke's life didn't matter and the fact that he died when he should have been given the treatment to allow him to live was something "we should let go of" another phrase I particularly dislike.   It seems to me we have too many people in our society who think it is alright to "move on and let go of things" rather than try and change things to improve the way we live.

I do believe things happen for a reason and maybe these phrases came to my ears because they undoubtedly inflamed me and created even more determination to do everything I could to understand where mistakes were made in Luke's care and how things will now be improved for the care of others.   Yes, this is what we have achieved.   The fourteen page report on Luke's case handed down by the Coroner was something neither our Barrister nor solicitor had seen before.   We also have a rule 43 letter which means the Lord Chancellor has received this and he has the opportunity to see that people learn from the mistakes made in Luke's care.   We know it would have been impossible to achieve this without our brilliant legal team who showed their commitment to making sure the truth was heard.   They know how much we valued their work and emotional support. 

During this demanding and painful time it was phenomenal knowing we also had another strand with another team of people, working in Luke's memory.    Tom Chalmers of Legend Press, with Lucy and Lauren have worked tremendously hard reading the submissions for this year's award.    As you know we also have two acclaimed writers as part of our judging panel Zoe Jenny and Sam Mills whose professional awareness when reading is invaluable.   We feel honoured to have them guiding us. We apologise to our finalists for the necessity of more time before we have been properly prepared for award night.   We thank all of you for sending in your work and helping us to honour Luke's memory in the way we know he will be delighted by as it was always his idea to give a bursary for fledgling writers. 

Some of us are naturally more attuned to the emotional mind's special symbolic modes: metaphor and simile, along with poetry and song, are all cast in the language of the heart.   So too are dreams and myths, in which loose associations determine the flow of narrative, abiding by the logic of the emotional mind.   Those who have a natural attunement to their own heart's voice - the language of emotion - are sure to be more adept at articulating its messages, whether as a novelist, songwriter or psychotherapist.   This inner attunement should make them gifted in giving voice to the "wisdom of the unconscious" - the felt meanings of our dreams and fantasies, the symbols that embody our deepest wishes.    The writers here tonight I hope will connect with these words and I certainly feel have a connection with you as I use symbol and metaphor all the time in my work as a psychodynamic counselor.

 

I get inspiration all the time from other peoples words and writing and would like to end with these inspiring words from T. S. Eliot from Little Gidding which have helped me understand what I have outgrown and can cast aside.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language

And next year's words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

 

GOODBYE 2010 AND A HUGE WELCOME TO 2011

 

I am now leaving behind the negativity of last year and embracing all that was good so I can carry it forward with me into the next phase of my life.   I have spent some time over the holiday period sorting out the wheat from the chaff and now with my large pot of wheat I shall look for fertile ground to sow it on giving myself a good opportunity for a plentiful harvest in the fullness of time.

I have learnt to be more selective in who I share my creativity with.   Certainly the experience of Luke's Inquest has taught me a huge lesson.   Turn a deaf ear to those people who say you will be unable to achieve what you feel determined to do.   I carry with me the words of Ruth Dugdall who said I had "a warrior like Spirit." And a writer friend in America who said he admired my "fortitude and determination."   Thank you to both of them.   They both have these attributes and with them my admiration for what they have achieved in their lives as writers.

Thank you to all those fabulous people who have given of themselves thus enabling me to start this year from an amazingly positive position.   When I look back I see such a diversity of people with an eclectic mix of talents whose generosity of spirit has helped to keep me energised during the bleakest moments of last year.   My amazing legal team who worked with their hearts as well as their heads.   The press who showed great interest and reported on Luke's Inquest whilst being mindful of our relived trauma.   The Coroner who clearly stated he didn't want to see such a tragedy in his jurisdiction again and has now enabled improved training to be put in place so hopefully care of people with mental health problems is becoming better informed.   All those people who sent comforting messages and visited Luke's website during the week of the Inquest.   It made such a huge difference to us knowing we were not alone.   Please accept my heartfelt thank you.

Amongst all this I met a skylark!    I tend to be an owl.   I remember when I was getting divorced and short of money I discussed with Luke about running a Bed & Breakfast business.   He wisely said "Do you think it would be better to do "Dinner & Bed!"   He was right I would have struggled to do breakfast.   So meeting a skylark has been amazing.   We could so easily not have been around at the same time but fate has deemed it right that we should meet and it is an amazing story that will be told in the fullness of time.   This is part of my pot of wheat.

With great excitement we now turn our energy to the third presentation of Luke's Bursary.

 

THE FINALISTS FOR THE THIRD LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS' BURSARY ARE

Alex Singer

Sandi Fikuart

Brian Jenkinson

Duncan Abel

Paul Shapira

Richard Harris

Sarah Hunter Carson

Sophie Duffy

It takes courage to decide to write a book.  Determination to finish it.  Belief in yourself to enter a competition.  Congratulations to all the finalists, and we shall greatly look forward to meeting you on 20 January 2011.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS 2010

 

It would be somewhat ambiguous to suggest we have had a good year but we have certainly had good moments.

The overwhelming and extremely difficult thoughts in our minds have been regarding Luke's Inquest.   I am not going to dwell on this except to say that our four year wait has been acknowledged as too long and too painful.   We took part in a radio documentary that is still on i player about delayed inquests, with interviewer, John Waite.    It seems the Coroner heeded this and brought his verdict date forward.

During listening to the evidence our Barrister turned to us and said "I don't know how you can bear to hear this?"   It was exceptionally difficult to hear about the mistakes that were made in Luke's care and the inefficiency of passing on information.   We now have a Rule 43 letter and the Lord Chancellor knows of Luke's case so that lessons can be learnt.   Changes are now being made in hospital training enabling nursing staff to have more knowledge about the care of patients with mental health problems.   The Coroner said he never wanted to hear of such a tragedy in his jurisdiction again.   We feel we have been properly heard and we are now taking all this to the next stage.

It has been delightful to see the second Luke Bitmead Bursary winner Ruth Dugdall and her book The Woman Before Me being so well received and enjoyed by many.    A psychological thriller that is a gripping read. She has been a great ambassador for Luke's Bursary and we are looking forward to continuing to work with her next year.

A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support Luke's Fund both with donations and encouraging messages and if you haven't yet donated this year we would be delighted to hear from you as we are running a bit late and this means our third bursary winner will be announced on 20th January 2011 in London.

We continue to be exceedingly appreciative of Tom Chalmers of Legend Press who with Lucy and Lauren does an enormous amount of work guiding Tiffany and I so that we choose the most publishable entry.   Zoe Jenny and Sam Mills bring their invaluable experience as successful writers themselves to our judging panel and we feel tremendously fortunate to have their opinions.

It wasn't possible to take a holiday this year because of the inquest but we both feel extremely relieved that our exhausting fight to make sure Luke's case was heard has been successful.   Hopefully our desire to change peoples' attitude to mental health problems is beginning to take effect.

The positive memory I shall hold from 2010 is of the wonderful, generous spirited people I have met because of Luke's death.   There are some incredibly special moments that I hold in my heart - the beautiful bunch of flowers left at my front door with a message on my mobile telling me they were there.   The fabulous bouquet that arrived on the 4th anniversary of Luke's death - the man delivering them was there to greet me as I came back from taking flowers to Luke's grave.   The perfect moment to know others were remembering Luke as well.   And two fabulous concerts that lifted our spirits remembering how brilliantly Luke played the drums.

As it says on Luke's grave stone "To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die."   He certainly lives on in many people's hearts and as his Mother this means so much to me and energises me to continue the work that he has left me to do.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and certainly for 2011 I hope we will all discover more of what really matters in life enabling us to share joy with those we love and the certainty of the knowledge that we are loved in return.

Elaine Hanson

Donations

By cheque payable to The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund to:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund

C/o The Hanson Partnership LLP

Suite A Unit 16 Cirencester Office Park

Tetbury Road

Cirencester

Glos

GL7 6JJ

Or pay by BACS/Internet transfer to:

The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund

Account number 71543547

Sort code 40-05-26

Many thanks

 

 

27 October 2010

We remember our much loved son on the fourth anniversary of his death.

We remember a fantastic Neil Diamond concert that we went to with Luke and as we listened to Neil on television last night singing "I'm a believer" we remember the dynamic personality that Luke had, and how we danced that night and laughed when we were all together.

The joy of Luke will always be with us.

Thank you to everyone who remembers him and supports his Memorial Fund.

We have achieved a great step forward in our quest to raise awareness of mental health problems and we will explain further in due course.

 

In the meantime the judging for the winner of The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund Writers Bursary continues..

Chris & Elaine Hanson

27 October 2010

We have noticed that there have been comments in the press that "NHS not responsible for death of Oxford author." The coroner was at pains to point out on a number of occasions during the inquest that the purpose of an inquest was not to apportion blame.  He was very clear as to the limits of an inquest. Also the coroner recorded that, "Luke Bitmead took his own life whilst suffering from depression".

The Coroner handed down a fifteen page document in which he gave his decision and reasons.   Clearly he had spent much time and consideration to produce this document for us Luke's family and we in turn need time to assimilate all that he has said.   There is clearly more to say and do, but we do not wish to act or respond hastily.   We did however feel it necessary to point out what has been reported by the press that might be misleading.

 

 

 

THE CORONER'S VERDICT FOR LUKE BITMEAD

 

As you know we had been told by the Coroner that he would be giving his verdict in October but this date has now been brought forward to 10th September 2010 at about 2pm.

We will hope for a narrative verdict as we feel that would seem to be the only fair one for Luke and will help us to have some feeling of justice.   Nothing will bring Luke back to us but for it to be clearly understood that the lack of treatment for his psychological pain, only one hour during the sixty hours he spent in hospital was, we believe, at the root of him ending his life.   Treatment for a patient's psychological state, particularly when they have just attempted suicide, MUST  be recognised as being as important as treatment for their physical state.

The evidence that we heard during the five days of Luke's Inquest, we believe, confirmed this.

We thank you all for your continued support.

Elaine & Chris Hanson

 

 

 

 

 The winner of the Luke Bitmead Writer's
Bursary 

The Woman Before Me by Ruth
Dugdall

Launch Evening

 

Thursday, launch night was special in that it showed us very clearly how our tragedy can bring an opportunity to show generosity of Spirit to others, enabling us to feel valued in return.   Ruth and I met early on in the loo, completely by chance!!   It was a moment to reconnect before the evening got under way.   Ruth was full of a mixture of emotions, excitement and anxiety.   For me it was delightful to know how much it meant to Ruth and that we had provided a stepping stone to enable her exceptional book to at last reach the shelves of book stores or be purchased over the internet.

It was a relief to notice she still had both ears!   And her hair was looking good. [REMEMBER HER TRIP TO THE HAIR DRESSERS.]

Ruth had arrived with four generations of her family.   From Grandparents to her daughter and five year old son, they were all there to celebrate her success.   Ruth had started to write The Woman Before Me when she was in hospital after the birth of her son.   Perhaps knowing this will help you to understand how committed she is to being a writer.   Speaking personally, after childbirth it took all my energy to look after my new baby and try and get enough sleep so I would manage when I got home.     Doing anything creative would have been on the back burner.   Not so with Ruth.

Tom gave a short speech introducing Ruth who then delivered an extremely moving thank you, explaining the connection between us as her book is about the death of a baby called Luke and our memorial fund was set up because of the tragic loss of my baby called Luke.   Yes he was thirty four but the loss of a child is difficult to come to terms with however old that child was.   My eyes filled with tears as I listened to her compassionate words and I could see hers filling as well.   And yet in that moment I believe we saw each other clearly.   Two Mothers understanding pain but not afraid to take that pain forward to create something unique.   As I have said before it is amazing how people are coming into our lives that we quickly feel a connection with.   Ruth wrote her book a year before my son died.   I am fascinated by the mysteries of the mind, the continuation of life after death and the influence of our past life experiences on our present behaviour.

Ruth said to me later, she now feels she carries the mantel of  The Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund for a year and she will pass it on to our next winner with pride when her year comes to an end.   We feel it is remarkable how energy keeps spiralling in from different directions to encourage us to continue our quest to motivate and support creative people who do so much to give all our lives more depth and meaning.

 

"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.   Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakens."

Carl Jung

 

Celebration time!

 

As you all know we have been dealing with difficult things and it is time to remember the energy of Luke that left us an amazing legacy that enabled us to create The Luke Bitmead Bursary.  This week on Thursday 26 August 2010 we are tremendously proud to be launching our second bursary winner's novel  The Woman Before Me written by Ruth Dugdall.

Without Tom Chalmers of Legend Press none of this would have been possible.  Today he said  "When we began the Bursary there was an aspect of a brave step into the unknown. and therefore we are absolutely delighted that through it we have discovered two novels of such brilliance as ON THE HOLLOWAY ROAD by Andrew Blackman and THE WOMAN BEFORE ME by Ruth Dugdall.  We are incredibly excited about the launch of Ruth's novel and believe it will herald the start of something very special for her as an author - it's a fantastic read and one we expect to prove a huge success - Order Now!" 

 

The Woman Before Me is a psychological thriller set in coastal Suffolk.

It is about Rose Wilks, whose life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her in hospital is Emma, who has just given birth to Luke and the two women become friends. Luke dies and Joel is thriving - then tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

The novel starts with Rose having spent five years behind bars. She is just weeks away from release if she can convince probation officer Cate Austin to recommend parole.

As Cate is drawn into Rose's story she begins to question everything she thought she knew about justice, love and obsession.

I asked Ruth today how she felt anticipating Thursday 

"Well, I know I'm not calm. At the hairdressers I was talking about the launch party and my hairdresser had to tell me to shut up, as my head was moving around so much she thought she'd cut my ear off! I'm excited and also emotional, as I'm about to arrive at a destination that for many years felt mythical.

I'm also grateful. To you, Elaine, most of all. Without your generosity in setting up the Bursary this would never have happened."

We feel privileged to have found such an empathic and talented writer who is enabling us to continue to remember Luke with positivity.

 

LUKE'S INQUEST - ADJOURNED UNTIL
OCTOBER

Never underestimate the power of collective
intent.

 

 PLEASE LOOK AT THE NEW DONATIONS PAGE

My feeling was that telling the story about Luke's Inquest a little at a time would be a calm way to manage a deeply upsetting time.   What I had not been prepared for was the media interest that followed the Inquest.   That rather took me by surprise.   It has however proved to be a cathartic time and one when we really valued the professionalism and compassion of the press.   No time however to write anything here but hopefully you have found other sources that have kept you informed and thank you so much for staying with us.

 

Face the Facts the programme researching why inquests sometimes take so long, gave us an introduction to being interviewed and also treated with respect for our grief over the loss of Luke.

Julian Sturdy, the producer set things up explaining how it would all unfold and he and John Waite, he of the mellifluous voice, came and interviewed both me and Chris at home.   We had all Luke's photographs, drum sticks and books on display so they could get a feel of the person we were talking about.   I then did another short piece after the Inquest.   This time outside with traffic around.   There I was in full flow when the most enormous transporter hove into view and completely drowned both me and John out.   We started again this time it was a growly motor bike!   We could only laugh and it made me think of Luke.   He would have thought it all hilarious and probably said "third time lucky guys" and so it was.

 

As for the Inquest     -     we heard what seemed like a huge amount of evidence.   Eighteen witnesses gave verbal evidence and given that much of it impacted on us in an emotional way we felt exhausted at the end of every day.   In fact Chris and I went to bed about 9pm every night and were then wide awake about 2am going through what we had heard.   There were thirty-one witnesses in total.

 

It was upsetting to hear witnesses say "I can't remember it was so long ago."   One person did this many times and seemed to be unconcerned that she couldn't remember.   That was painful to watch and hear.   You can read so much from body language!

 

Other witnesses clearly showed how much they cared about what had happened to Luke and it felt as if they shared in our anger that mistakes had been made that left them feeling let down as well. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

 

It was a relief to have daughter, son-in-law and two little granddaughters with us on Wednesday and Thursday.   Children demonstrate beautifully how life goes on and spending time with them helped give us the emotional energy to keep listening attentively.

 

Now, as you know, we are adjourned until October for the Coroner's summing up and verdict.   He has asked for submissions from all Counsel by 9th August with an extension for two of them until 16th August due to holidays.   This is because he wants to have the opportunity to deliberate on the evidence while it is fresh in his mind.   We hope and pray he will give a narrative verdict.   Perhaps all of you caring people joining us in that hope will allow it to happen.

 

The book Tuesdays With Morrie written by Mitch Albom has many important messages in it.   Here is one of them that I know Luke would have connected with.

"My visits with Morrie felt like a cleansing rinse of human kindness.   We talked about life and we talked about love.   We talked about one of Morrie's favourite subject's compassion, and why our society had such a shortage of it. Devote yourself to loving others; devote yourself to your community around you in a way that creates something that gives your life purpose and meaning.   "You notice" he added grinning," there's nothing in there about a salary."

Since Luke's death we have been shown amazing compassion, sometimes from people we hardly know.   It has been so empowering to know how much people care and linking with like minded people will enable us all to have a more meaningful experience of life.

More to follow soon.

 

You have all been truly magnificent in your ability to make sure we knew we had a huge amount of support, helping to maintain our emotional strength, during the five days of Luke's Inquest. That support came in many different ways. Flowers, cards, letters, email messages and our neighbour who kept our garden watered.  And very importantly all the visitors to Luke's website.   It was so good to know we were not alone. We could feel you there with us.

The Coroner and his Clerk treated us with kindness and compassion. The Coroner read my witness statement for me and none of the legal representatives wanted to question me. I wanted to add to my statement so I was sworn in and took the stand. I asked "why was it that as Luke was admitted to hospital having tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose that during the sixty hours he was in the Great Western Hospital there was only about one hour when his mental health was focused on?" That question remains unanswered. Did nobody think it was important to discover with clarity what had driven Luke to want to destroy himself?

 

You may have been aware that the press have been a great help in enabling Luke's story to be known and we are extremely grateful for that.   If you Google "Luke Bitmead Inquest" you can read some of the reports.

I will continue this story a little at a time.  I am sure you understand why.

 

 

  Luke's Inquest

The time of waiting is coming to an end.   Advancing towards the Inquest for Luke inevitably stirs painful memories of the most devastating time of our lives.   We keep reassessing everything that happened three years and nine months ago and discuss what we could have done differently.   What would have made the difference for Luke to feel sufficiently supported to continue with his life?

 

We are also focusing on how his medical treatment could have been conducted in a way that may have achieved a positive result instead of this appalling tragedy.   Perhaps the Inquest will give us some answers?

 

We are so grateful to have connected with many compassionate people who have helped us feel supported at this time.   True empathy from people we hardly know and one we don't know at all!! Our anonymous donor has sent a beautiful, thoughtful letter that we have found very encouraging.   This person fears being intrusive in our grief but let me assure you it is messages like this that help sustain our energy during a time that is sometimes emotionally draining.

 

Friday 16th July we were interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for a programme that will be broadcast later in August.   We will be interviewed again after the Inquest.    More news will follow in due course.   It felt cathartic to be able to talk about Luke in an atmosphere of gentleness whilst being asked some searching questions.   It is good to spend time with people who really care and are endeavouring to make a difference to the way society manages bereavement.

Thursday 19th August the long awaited launch of Ruth Dugdall's book The Woman Before Me will give us an opportunity to remember Luke with positivity.   Ruth is not only an extremely talented writer but a kind and sensitive woman. She delayed the launch of her book until after the Inquest so we will have our traumatic time behind us and will be able to join whole heartedly her celebratory night.   We value her generosity in doing this enormously.

 

We will be staying in Trowbridge for the week of the Inquest but will pick up emails on our return.     May I ask all of you who have given us such brilliant support to visit Luke's website and send us positive thoughts during that week.   If you could introduce one other person to Luke's books and his story that will really help to increase the growth of his Fund and the opportunity to change people's attitude to mental health issues.

We send our heartfelt thanks to our wonderful growing family of supporters who have helped us maintain our strength during a time of much anxiety.

 

Elaine and Christopher Hanson

 

13th MAY 2010 LUKE'S BIRTHDAY.

Today we are proud to announce the 3rd LUKE BITMEAD WRITER'S BURSARY  in memory of our much loved son and brother.   It is brilliant to know we have already helped two exceptional writers to get their talent acknowledged and their books published.

2008 Andrew Blackman won with his well received book ON THE HOLLOWAY ROAD.

2009 Ruth Dugdall was our winner with her amazing book THE WOMAN BEFORE ME.   We are greatly looking forward to the launch in August 2010.   Ruth generously delayed the launch date until after the inquest for Luke so we could be there.

Now we open the opportunity for a flock of fledgling writers to submit their work to Legend Press.   Today begins another exciting voyage of discovery to enable fresh talent to be given the opportunity to be acknowledged by the literary world.

Please look at www.legendpress.co.uk for all the details as to how to enter, giving yourself the opportunity of a publishing deal and a prize of £2,500 plus runner up prizes.   Everyone will be invited to a celebration night when prizes will be awarded in October.   We hope this will inspire talented writers who are as yet unpublished, to believe in themselves and have the courage to allow their work to be professionally assessed by the excellent team at Legend Press.   It is thanks to the continued support from Tom Chalmers at Legend Press that we are able to offer this award.

Remember " Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong."

We wish you all inspired creativity in your writing and good luck.

 

 --o--

 

 

For some time I have felt as if I was standing at the opening of a long dark tunnel unsure whether I really wanted to go down it.   Now we have the date for the full Inquest for Luke and there will be no turning back.

The Inquest for Luke will start on Monday 26th July 2010 in Trowbridge and will last for four or five days.   Anyone wishing to attend is free to do so and we would be pleased to have your support.   Mental health and self esteem are essential for all of us to lead creative, productive lives.   Knowing we are supported by family and friends helps enormously to give us the confidence to cross into unfamiliar territory.    Instead of blaming others perhaps we can all take some responsibility for the fractured society that we live in and discover together how to increase the opportunity for healing.

A clearer understanding of Luke's untimely death will be, we hope, illuminating for the people caring professions bringing clarity to their work. 

Luke often found the words of Jonathan Cainer thought provoking.   I read this by him in 2008 and found it helpful.   I would like to share it with you.

 'If you have tried everything that you know how to do, maybe it is time to try something that you don't know how to do.   You may need to step outside your comfort zone.   This will only prove stressful if you fear failure.   Sometimes, though, life obliges us to embark on an education.   It doesn't let us rest on our laurels.   At such times, we don't really have much of a choice.   If we try to hang on to the status quo, it will simply slip even further from our grasp.   Our only hope is an open mind……………………and an open heart won't go amiss either.'

As we move closer towards the Inquest I am well outside my comfort zone but I also have a strong belief that we will create something positive in Luke's memory and there can be no better way of showing our love and respect for him.

 

PRE INQUEST HEARING

It was an anxious time waiting for the Pre Inquest Hearing and we were helped enormously by your encouraging messages and kind words.   Hope is important for us all and you gave us hope by knowing we had your support.

The Coroner treated us with compassion and respect asking how we would like Luke to be addressed as Luke or Mr. Bitmead.   We had no hesitation in saying "Luke."    We know that is what he would have wanted.    The Coroner also apologised for the delay and explained why this had happened.   It seemed a bit surreal sitting opposite what seemed like an army of solicitors and a barrister, there were seven and then there was us, Chris my husband, me Luke's Mother and our solicitor.   The    evidence and witnesses to be called was discussed.   The Coroner decided on a five day Inquest so we were able to feel some relief that the evidence will be looked at carefully and we may find some comfort in this.   The Coroner has also reduced the time scale before the full Inquest and it will now be sometime between May and August.   This again was a relief as it has certainly felt like a dark cloud hanging over us probably because of the uncertainty of it all.   I have said to some people it is like waiting to sit an exam that you have no chance of passing.   Nothing can bring Luke back but to improve understanding of why he died must be important for us all and perhaps this will bring us some calmness that we lack at the moment.

A big thank you for the donations that have come in recently.   It felt like shafts of sunlight through our darkness and helped to sustain us when everything seemed so bleak.   Donations from Whitby, North Yorkshire, Scotland and Suffolk give some idea as to how Luke's Fund has a diversity of supporters and this will increase the opportunity for us to develop and grow.  

 

Hope sustains us through disappointments and suffering.   Without hope life is meaningless.   The Russian novelist Dostoevsky observed "To live without hope is to cease to live."   Thank you to all those people who have given us hope that we can achieve something positive in Luke's name.

 

It is encouraging and comforting to see the visitors to Luke's website continue to grow even though I haven't been able to post fresh news for some time. A big thank you for your loyal support.

Completely unexpectedly my Father, Luke's Grandfather died on 30th December 2009.   He was enjoying watching the cricket on Sunday 27th December.   On the Monday he began to feel unwell.   On Tuesday his blood pressure dropped alarmingly and he was rushed to hospital and on Wednesday he passed away peacefully. The last time I saw him he said he felt he had lived too long.   He was 98 years and would have been 99 years on the 29th of this month.   What an incredibly long life.   He lived in Devon and so with the difficulties of snow and slippery roads getting there was challenging.   The Memorial Service was 22nd January 2010 and his ashes are now scattered with my Mother's.   He has left us a legacy which will help to support Luke's Bursary Fund.   I hope you will understand that as my Father's only child there were things that had to be attended to and inevitably there has been a time delay here.

 

We now have the date for the Pre Inquest Hearing for Luke.   It will be  23rd February 2010.   We are aware tough times lie ahead but we are full of determination to achieve something positive from our tragedy.   If  returning to the most traumatic time in our lives helps in the care and understanding of others then it will have been worthwhile to re -experience the pain of losing Luke in what I feel was a way that could have been prevented.   There is so much more to tell that can't be told at the moment.

We are thrilled to have received a very generous donation from a person who wishes to remain anonymous  and this has really helped raise our spirits during the sad time of the  loss of another family member.   It certainly helps us to know people are aware of what we are doing in Luke's memory and want to give their support.   Huge THANK YOU to the anonymous person.

My dream for Luke's website is to encourage others to find a way to believe in themselves and live their life being the person they want to be not feeling they must comply with the expectation of others.  

"The true voyage of discovery consists not of searching for new paths but of seeing with new eyes."

                         Marcel Proust

 

 

I wish you all a creative, pleasurable and satisfying New Year.

Donations to

 Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, account number 71543547 sort code 40-05-26 or The Hanson Partnership LLP Suite A Unit 16, Cirencester Office Park, Tetbury Road, Cirencester, Glos. GL7 6JJ
 

HEARTWARMING  NEWS

 

The march towards Christmas can be particularly hard for those people who will experience the loss of a loved one particularly poignantly at this time when families gather.   We struggle with our emotions and try to remain positive knowing what we are creating in memory of Luke will help provide others with the opportunity to gain confidence to pass over  the rough terrain that life sometimes puts in our path.   For me, Luke's Mother, I find it amazingly helpful to receive news of others happiness which gives us the feeling of being included and sharing in that joy.

 

ANDREW BLACKMAN our first bursary winner, whose beautifully written book ON THE HOLLOWAY ROAD is being enjoyed by many, has just married Genie.   Andrew gave me permission to share a part of his message to us, with you.

 "We've been together for nine years now and to be honest we felt married already, in the sense of knowing that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.   Still, it was a nice thing to do, and we went to Paris on the Eurostar for a one night honeymoon."

 We met Genie at the presentation evening and felt her to be a total delight.  We send our congratulations to them both and hope 2010 will provide an opportunity to meet up again.   At the moment they are spending time in the sun visiting Genie's family in Barbados and we send our warmest wishes to them all.   Andrew promised to send us some sun and it seems to have arrived in Gloucestershire today.   Thank you.

 

At this time of giving may we ask for donations for next year's bursary to be sent to

The Hanson Partnership LLP Suite A Unit 16, Cirencester Office Park, Tetbury Road,  Cirencester,  Glos. GL7 6JJ

Cheques should be payable to THE LUKE BITMEAD MEMORIAL FUND alternatively payments by BACS should go to Account No 71543547 Sort code 40-05-26. Thank you.

 

We have all heard of the pebble in the pond and the ripple effect well it felt as if a boulder had been unexpectedly heaved into our emotional pond when we were notified that the pre inquest hearing for Luke was going to be held the day before I was due to travel to London to care for small Granddaughter Tillie, while Luke's sister Tiffany and husband Rob were having their second baby.   The experience of the tragedy of Luke's death means I am particularly attentive when it comes to helping to take care of loved ones.   Fortunately an understanding Coroner has now postponed this until January which is an enormous relief and we are extremely grateful.   It is a huge relief also that following two miscarriages, we now have a beautiful Granddaughter Perdita Sapphire Josephine who will be known as Purdie, sister for Tillie.

 This explains the delay in sharing the brilliant experience of the second presentation of Luke's Bursary. It was wonderfully comforting for me, Luke's Mother, to hear how our ten finalists appreciated the whole experience and for those of you who have written or emailed I really value hearing how this has helped you gain in confidence and determination to follow your dream.   Of course it is important to accept that success is a journey not a destination. And confidence is about doing what you need to do in the short-term to achieve your long term goals.   I know how uplifting it can be to receive some validation of the work you are doing and to hear from our two talented writers Zoe Jenny and Sam Mills who made helpful comments on the work they read.   We value their professional input on the judging panel enormously and having them there to speak to you personally I believe added greatly to what you were able to gain from the evening.

 Our winner Ruth Dugdall is someone we are now getting to know better and she has shared some of her experience of mental health problems in her work as a Probation Officer. We will reveal more of this soon.   It is wonderful that something seems to be guiding the right people to us enabling the development of Luke's Fund to grow in exactly the way we intended, encouraging fledgling writers and speaking of mental health problems so that the stigma can be eradicated.   We are thrilled that Ruth's book will be published by Tom Chalmers of Legend Press next year.

 

Thank you to everyone that entered this year's competition and for the nine of the ten finalists, to see you in London for presentation night was a great pleasure for us.   We know some of you had travelled a great distance and brought relatives and friends as enthusiastic supporters who helped make the evening the superb success it was.  

 More news soon.

 After such an amazing night meeting our ten finalists it is frustrating not to have the opportunity to recount the diversity of the second bursary presentation and the evening we all shared. We are weighed down by things that must be attended to and a special event needs to be focussed on.  Soon we shall be able to bring you up to date. 

Thank you to all those people who keep in touch with Luke's website.

 

 

 The Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary Winners

 

RUTH Dugdall is our WINNER, an unpublished author from Suffolk who travelled to London accompanied by her husband with her childrens' good luck wishes ringing in her ears.  Her novel THE WOMAN BEFORE ME will be published by Legend Press summer 2010.  Ruth also received a cheque for £2,500.

IAIN LAURIE was awarded second prize and a cheque for £500, which will help him to purchase the new computer that he is in much need of.

BEA DAVENPORT was awarded third prize and a cheque for £400.  Unfortunately she was unable to join us for the presentation, so we send her our congratulations and hope this acqknowledgement of her talent will give her confidence to persue what ever path seems to be beckoning her in the future

 

A fuller report on this scintillating evening will follow in due course.

 

The Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary Presentation

We can feel the excitement growing in anticipation of The Luke Bitmead Writers' Bursary Award evening.  It will be a great pleasure to meet our ten finalists, and together with the Legend Press team we are delighted to be encouraging new talent.  Talent that has had to overcome personal difficulties with courage and determination.  We feel extremely fortunate to be meeting these people. 

 

 With double the number of entries this year we knew we would have a dilemma choosing our ten finalists - and so it proved to be.  A real "Catch 22".  For those of you whose name does not appear amongst the finalists, please remember that without your submission we would have had less wealth of choice. You have all helped us create an impressive competition that is growing in stature.  We value your openness in your personal statements and maybe by writing about your difficulties you feel more empowered knowing that you have resources enabling you to get this far.  That in itself is an achievement.

We are proud to announce The
Luke Bitmead Writers' Bursary
Shortlist

 

Thomas Aldis                                       Ruth Dugdall

 Bea Davenport                            Marion Woolley

 Garlen Lo                                    Rowan Crombie

 Kevin Loughnane                              Iain Laurie

        Kate Winser                            Catherine Scott

 

Great news for one of our judging panel

  "Sam Mills' bestselling novel 'The Boys Who Saved the World' is being made into a film. The novel is about a group of disillusioned teenagers who set up their own religion - the Hebetheus Faith - and, in their misguided desire to change the world, kidnap an Asian girl at their school whom they claim is a terrorist. The book is a controversial political thriller, a love story and a topical exploration of religious faith. The film will be written and directed by first-time Turkish director Ufuk Gokkaya, who has made over 30 short films. It is now in pre-production and filming is due to begin at the end of the year. A test shoot took place in Wales and the test trailer can be viewed at www.tbwstw.com - as well as more information on the book, cast and crew."

Many congratulations Sam!

 

Those of you who are regular vistors to Luke's website will notice we have now removed the names of last year's finalists.  We wish all of them well as they move forward in their lives and thank them for making our first presentation a huge success. 

The experience of being part of that vibrant night when Andrew Blackman was the winner of Luke's first bursary will stay in our hearts and minds forever.  We hope for the finalists it was a stepping stone towards greater confidence in being who they are, something we all strive to do.

 NOW we are preparing for the presentation to our 2009 winner, and we are certainly feeling ripples of excitement.

'After the fantastic success of the Bursary last year, I was almost a little nervous second time around - a bit like releasing a second single following a huge first hit! But, the response received has been amazing. We've had over double the already high amount of submissions received last year and the range and quality has been excellent - it's fantastic to read novels of such different type and offering such a range of angles, perspectives and style.

Choosing a shortlist is incredibly difficult - do you try to choose a range, what are the main factors to take into account, and there is always that nagging concern of the classic one that got away. But with a lot of reading and discussion we have managed to whittle the list down, to be announced shortly, and then it is to the panel - can't wait to discuss the fantastic chosen books further!'

 

It gave us a huge buzz to read this from the dynamic Tom Chalmers of Legend Press.  It reminded us of the words of James Russel Lowell "Books are like bees that carry the pollen from one mind to another"

The shortlist will be posted soon.

 

The countdown is over!

The date for entries is now closed, good luck to all of you for the opportunity of receiving a financial award of £2,500 PLUS a publishing deal with Legend Press.  

We are delighted to hear from Tom Chalmers that entries are up on last year for Luke's Bursary.  Perhaps the rain has kept you in and kept you writing, although we do remember how Luke on sunny days would position his laptop in the shade with his body in the sun.  He would lie on the lawn with a towel over his laptop and head, fingers flying over the keys.  Rain or shine he would write.  It is brilliant for us to be able to do something to encourage you talented but as yet unrecognised writers in Luke's name.  Thank you to all of you who have already sent your work in and we hope it is encouraging for those of you who are still writing to know that we value you all and hope we have been able to give you extra incentive by working towards a specific date

 

THE SECOND LUKE BITMEAD WRITERS' BURSARY

13 MAY 2009

We are proud to announce on Luke's birthday the second Bursary in his memory. The energy and creativity of TOM CHALMERS and his dynamic team at LEGEND PRESS are again giving us their support and an opportunity of a fantastic publishing deal for the winner.

We are delighted to have ZOE JENNY and DEBORAH WRIGHT bringing their professional expertise, gained in their own successful writing careers, to the panel of judges.  Further details can be read at  www.legendpress.co.uk

We thank all of you who have donated to Luke's Fund which enables us to present a cheque for £2,500 to the winner.  Other prizes will be decided near the presentation date.  Anyone who would like to make a donation in memory of Luke please make cheques payable to "The LUKE BITMEAD MEMORIAL FUND" and send them to THE HANSON PARTNERSHIP LLP,  CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS, SUITE A UNIT 16 CIRENCESTER OFFICE PARK,  TETBURY ROAD,  CIRENCESTER,  GLOS GL7 6JJ.

With your support, we will be able to do as last year, giving second and third prizes and runners up prizes as well.  We know there are many people out there who feel connected to Luke and this is a really meaningful way to continue that connection, supporting the bursary that he wanted to create. Thank you.

ANDREW BLACKMAN last years winner goes from strength to strength.  Read his book "ON THE HOLLOWAY ROAD"

 

2009

We wanted to share our pride with you at seeing our first winner of the Luke Bitmead Writers' Bursary in print: Andrew Blackman's On The Holloway Road was formally launched at a party in London's West End on February 26th and is available in bookshops from February 28th. It was wonderful to see Andrew looking so confident as he gave his speech and his reading from his first published novel - it looked as if coming out of the shadows and stepping into the spotlight was something Andrew took in his stride. The time was right. We feel his supportive partner Genie was an integral part of this. We were also thrilled to see our second prize winner last year, James Higgerson, come along to support Andrew, and to receive a lovely message of support from our third placed winner Andrew Kirby ahead of the evening. What lovely people Luke's award has introduced to our lives.

A big thank you to Tom Chalmers and his team at Legend Press, the publisher of Andrew's novel, in helping us to realise Andrew's dream of a life in print come true. We were also honoured to have our judges, themselves bestselling writers, Zoe Jenny and Deborah Wright in attendance at Andrew's launch. We are all excited about awarding another bursary in Luke's name later this year - further information will follow soon!

 

It seems our openness to the unknown leaves more room for you, Luke's friends and fans to help us make the incomprehensible, comprehensible. Your continued supportive messages, donations and creative ideas energise us for another year of growth and discovery in this troubled world.  By allowing you to play your part in building Luke's Fund into something people can turn to for creative help allows you to be creative as well.

Andrew Blackman's book On The Holloway Road will be launched in February and it is with enormous pride that we see the Luke Bitmead Award has been acknowledged on the front cover 

 

ANDREW BLACKMAN'S "ON THE HOLLOWAY ROAD" IS A GREAT READ AND WE FEEL SURE IT WILL DO WELL. IT IS A BOOK ABOUT TWO LONDONERS SEARCHING FOR MEANING AND FREEDOM IN MODERN-DAY BRITAIN AND IT FEELS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BE ONE OF THE LINKS THAT HAS ENABLED ANDREW TO BECOME A PUBLISHED WRITER.  

THE MENTAL HEALTH STRAND TO OUR FUND IS ALSO PROGRESSING.  WE ARE SEEING CHANGES TO PEOPLES ATTITUDE AND AWARENESS OF AN ILLNESS THAT NEEDS COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING. A HUGE CAMPAIGN BEGINS IN 2009 THAT WILL BE FOCUSING ON BRINGING KNOWLEDGE INTO EVERYBODIES LIVES THAT WILL ENABLE US ALL TO RESPOND DIFFERENTLY.   WHEN SOMEONE BREAKS THEIR LEG AND BECOMES UNSTABLE WE OFFER SUPPORT TO STEADY THEM. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED TO DO WHEN PEOPLE BECOME PSYCHOLOGICALLY UNSTABLE, OFFER SUPPORT TO STEADY THEM. THAT CAN BE JUST LISTENING TO HOW THEY FEEL AND ENCOURAGING THEM TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY ABOUT BEING UNWELL.

NOW WE NEED TO RAISE FUNDS FOR NEXT YEARS BURSARY.   ALL THE DETAILS TO ENABLE YOU TO DO THIS CAN BE FOUND ON THE MEMORIAL FUND PAGE, OR YOU CAN SEND CHEQUES MADE OUT TO THE LUKE BITMEAD MEMORIAL FUND TO KEBLE HOUSE, THE FARRIERS, SOUTHROP, GLOS. GL7 3RL. WE THANK ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE ALREADY DONATED FOR 2009 BEFORE WE HAD EVEN ASKED !!!!!  

PLEASE REMEMBER LUKE'S BOOKS MAKE GREAT PRESENTS AND ALL THE ROYALTIES GO INTO THE FUND ENABLING US TO REMEMBER OUR MUCH MISSED SON AND BROTHER IN A WAY THAT HELPS OTHERS.

WE WISH YOU WHATEVER YOU WISH YOURSELVES FOR CHRISTMAS AND OFFER YOU TWO THOUGHTS.

"SUCCESS IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION."             UNKNOWN

"WHATEVER YOU ARE, BE A GOOD ONE."         ABRAHAM LINCOLN

 

THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUKE BITMEAD MEMORIAL FUND

27th OCTOBER 2008

The Greek Poet Hesiod [circa 700BC] wrote, "If you should put even a little on a little and should do this often, soon this would become big." So it is with Luke's Fund. To receive messages telling us how much you miss Luke helps us enormously to feel we are not alone with our grief. We received a card from one of Luke's dear friends who he did much traveling with, that has a burst of sunflowers on the front, and a compassionate message inside. Another letter came from a school friend who has had a major back operation and was unable to join us for the presentation of Luke's Bursary.  He sends us encouraging words and a donation towards next years award.  Yesterday we received the winnings from a sweep-stake at a wedding guessing the length of the speeches!  Luke would be amused at the creativity you are showing to enable his fund to grow.  This is just a taste of how donations are coming in.

If everybody that knew Luke donated a small amount we would soon have sufficient to be sure of next year's presentation when we feel it will be needed even more to support artistic talent in these difficult financial times.

For those of you that have read White Summer you will know that The Swan in Southrop, heavily disguised by Luke as The Duck, was featured in the book and indeed some of the story was written in the bar! Yesterday we had lunch in The Swan remembering Luke and the happy times we had spent with him there. The new people running The Swan are Lana who is front of house and made us very welcome, and Sebastian the chef who creates delicious dishes which we enjoyed immensely.

We walked down to the Churchyard and put vibrant flowers on his grave trying to remember the joyfulness of Luke and his ability to see humour in the most difficult of circumstances. That is what we must do now. He used to call me a technophobe, and would laugh at how I struggled using the computer but then showed me how to master the technology that I feared!

We are delighted to have linked with another family whose son also died by suicide, a few weeks after Luke.  To read more about this please visit the Memorial Fund page.

During the wet season, I hesitate to call it summer, it has been encouraging to continue to receive messages and see the number of visitors to Luke's web site grow.  It is wonderful to know we have your support in keeping the memory of Luke alive in a way that sends out the clear positive message that we are incredibly proud of him.  It seems many of you were proud to be his friend and now we are delighted to be able to call you our friends as well.   This connection between us is creating a change in the way that people perceive suicide.  When people are angry, but feel guilty or frightened and powerless, they often turn the anger in on themselves.  The result is depression.  You are helping us, Luke's Family, to feel empowered.  Your support gives us a feeling of being in a floating dock where we have been raised up for maintenance and repair.  We are grieving while being held by the buoyancy that knowing you care as well, gives us.  We remember the difficulties that other people are living with and some of you shared on the night we presented Luke's first bursary.  Taking more time to listen to each other provides opportunities to learn and discover how to give support to those who are in need but feel unable to ask.  At the end of October I feel privileged to have been invited to meet with nine other mothers who have also lost valued sons by suicide.  We will be brain storming together, driven by the strongest of motives to help discover what makes someone believe that all that is available for them is to destroy themselves.  And what we can do to prevent other families experiencing this terrible trauma.   Luke felt instinctively that what would be good for the world was to help people laugh.  He, as those of you who knew him will remember, had a great gift for this.   I am sure he would be delighted to see that the BBC's new mental health campaign, Headroom is fronted by what might seem an unusual choice of person.  She is a psychotherapist with an MA in neuroscience.  Look on the Memorial Fund page and you may discover you know this person well in a completely different guise.  A quote from Therapy Today says about her  "Her informal, confessional and jargon - busting style is intended to demystify mental health issues, and she uses her humour to demolish taboos."  Well we like the sound of all that.  Amongst our friends out there is someone who has been hiding his talent as a photographer but has just sent us a great picture of Luke and other people who were at the launch of White Summer.  We will be adding them to the Gallery pictures in due course.  Luke was enigmatic .  He was also unpretentious.  His idea of creating a bursary for fledgling writers was something he, I feel, knew would have a profound affect enabling people to be drawn together in a supportive way.  Perhaps we did not realise how quickly things would begin to grow.  It feels as if we flung a handful of seeds on to exceptionally fertile ground.   We have quickly learnt that to give creative people an opportunity they seize it, play around with it and explore what they can give in return.   We would like to share more with you about the amazing evening in London.  When we arrived the room where the awards were due to be presented had its windows wide open as it was a hot night.  We feared the roar of the traffic outside would make conversation difficult.   We need not have worried.  The room filled very quickly and the animated conversations between lively, energetic people completely obliterated any sounds of traffic.  The plan was for the judges to weave there way amongst the vibrant crowd and each try and speak to the writers on our short list.  This worked well except nobody could find Andrew Blackman.  Had he arrived, yes his name had been ticked off Lucy's list so where was he?  We decided the time had come to proceed and we just had to trust in the belief that he would appear.  Read more about Andrew and in due course the other writers who received awards on the Memorial Fund page.

 We continue to receive messages of congratulations on the success of our first presentation of this new award and things are happening that we will be sharing with you.   In the next few days we will have the opportunity to confirm the changes we hear that are being made in the attitude to mental health. We will also share some of the complimentary messages plus offers of creative help that we have received.  Changes are being made in areas where things have stayed stuck for years.  THANK YOU to everyone that is helping make this happen. 

We are proud and excited to announce the winner of the first Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary as Andrew Blackman from North London.  Andrew receives the winners cheque of £2,500 and a contract from Legend Press to publish his novel On The Holloway Road.  None of the judging panel had managed to meet Andrew in the hour before the presentation so it was equally exciting for us to meet our winner, and find him to be such a charming man.

The finalists were announced at the award ceremony in London on the evening of Thursday 24th July in front of a large and excited crowd. The judges were so impressed by the standard of entries, and the determination and hard work in the face of adversity shown by the writers, that additional prizes were awarded to all eleven shortlisted entries: 

 

We are so encouraged to receive so many wonderful compliments on the night about Luke's idea to have a writers bursary that we are now making plans for next year! Please continue to support us.

JUDGING PANEL

Elaine Hanson and Tiffany Orton (Luke's mother and sister) would like to say a huge thank you to their fellow judges who put so much time and effort into evaluating all the chapters and personal stories submitted: best selling authors Sam Mills and Zoe Jenny together with Tom Chalmers and Lucy Boguslawski of LEGEND PRESS.