MILITARY families in Helensburgh and Lomond are being invited to put pen to paper to describe their experiences of forces life.

The shared reading charity Reading Force, which encourages military families to share books together, is turning the tables and asking families to put pen to paper and write their own stories.

Members of forces families - from infants to grandparents - in Helensburgh and across the country are invited to write about ‘My Forces Life’ for the chance to win prizes including £100 of books and have their stories published in a special anthology.

This competition is open until March 27.

One of the judges will be award-winning children's author Vivian French MBE, who Reading Force brought to Helensburgh in January 2020 to talk to local young people.

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She spoke to children from local forces families at the Drumfork Community Centre about her life and career, answered questions about her work, and signed copies of her books for children to take home.

Participants in the 'My Forces Life' competition can write up to 500 words about forces life. This can be fiction or true-life writing, and in any form - a story, a few diary entries, a poem, or a joint piece of writing between family members.

The remit is broad with families having the freedom to express whatever they wish to about being part of the military community.

Children could write a fantasy of what they imagine their forces parent gets up to in their day job, while parents may like to get down on paper the beginning of the memoir they have always wanted to write.

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An adult in the family could pen a joint piece of writing with a child.

Hattie Gordon from Reading Force said: “During the last 10 years of Reading Force, we have been consistently impressed and moved by the way families express their thoughts and feelings when sharing books together.

"The creativity, effort, and the expression that families put into their Reading Force scrapbooks has always inspired us to keep finding ways to support and work constructively with families.

"We are really looking forward to seeing what stories families will submit to this competition.”

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Award-winning authors Vivian French, Tom Palmer, Meg Rosoff, and Amanda Prowse, and BFBS Radio presenter Mark McKenzie, will be judging the stories.

There are 15 prizes for different age categories, and all winning entries will be published in a special anthology. Every person entering will be awarded a certificate.

The competition is sponsored by Bolt Burdon Kemp Solicitors, and Hachette Children’s Group.

For more information please go to

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