Elaine making her speech 


Lauren from Legend



One of our Judges author Katie Fforde 

Happy finalist Jennifer Lewis with her family




 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.



 Watch the 8th Luke Bitmead Awards Night on You Tube




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



Luke's Family are delighted to invite you



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.


The winner will be announced at an award evening in Central London on 20th November 2015. The winning author will receive £2,500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press for 2016.

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


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."




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.



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


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:




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.



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. 



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





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





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.


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


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.



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.


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


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.



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!"


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:




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.



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

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.


"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.


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.

Shortlist for 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary announced

Legend Press are delighted to announce the 10 shortlisted authors for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary. Set up in memory of Legend Press' first ever published novelist the award, now its seventh year, supports the work of struggling unpublished authors.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Central London on 28th November 2014. The winning author will receive £2500 and a publishing contract with Legend Press for 2015.

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.'


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.




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.


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.


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!'


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:


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


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.


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.



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

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

Copyright © Legend Press 2014, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:



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..



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


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.




Information prior to 31 December 2013 is now held on the Archive page

Further information about the Bursary is available under the 'Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund' section.

PURCHASES: for those who wish to support the Bursary and help raise funds for next year you can purchase copies of WHITE SUMMER, HEADING SOUTH and THE BODY IS A TEMPLE through direct links to the Legend Press website. Please click on 'Recent Publications' and the links will take you straight through.

Alternatively all the books are available on Amazon

GETTING IN TOUCH: please do leave us messages through the 'Email Me' link and we will respond.

We are so thrilled to say that donations keep coming through - and it gives us a boost each time. Thank you so much. Luke would be amazed and delighted that you are all remembering him and doing something worthwhile in his name. We have started the journey of raising awareness to help prevent future tragedies.

DONATIONS: for those of you who wish to make a donation please send a cheque made out to the 'Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund' and post to Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund, c/o The Hanson Partnership LLP, Chartered Accountants, Suite A Unit 16 Cirencester Office Park House, Tetbury Road, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6JJ

For further information about the Fund please click on 'Luke Bitmead Memorial Fund'.

We will continue to update this website with details of progress on the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary and fund raising so do please continue to log on from time to time. We have further works written by Luke. With the valued assistance of Luke's hugely supportive publisher Legend Press, we hope to be able to share these with you in the future.

We miss you Luke, you will never be forgotten.