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Skilled Creative Writing student wins top prize in magazine's story competition


A talented student is on course for success after winning a prestigious writing competition.

Eileen O’Reilly, 59, a Wrexham Glyndwr University Creative Writing and English student, won £100 for her touching, yet comical, story she entered into the Writing Magazine.

After retiring from the civil service Eileen decided to study Creative Writing and English at Wrexham’s university.

She said: “I always had this idea that I would go back to some form of study when I eventually retired; I just decided to bring my retirement forward and seize the opportunity to do something new and exciting with my life. 

“I love reading and, like every reader, often wondered if I could ever write anything that people would be interested in reading, so taking this course was my chance to put myself to the test. And with the support and feedback from my tutors, I’m getting there.

“Going back into full-time education 40 years after leaving school is hard work.”

Eileen’s winning entry, Waiting for Gertie, focused on two elderly characters, who were attending a funeral and waiting for their friend Gertie.

Eileen, who lives with her husband Myles near Wrexham, was also shortlisted in the Writing Magazine, in February, for a short story.

On winning first prize for Waiting for Gertie, Eileen said: “The support I have received for my own writing throughout the course has been of enormous benefit. Feedback is essential and has helped me to develop not only my own ‘voice’ but also confidence in my ability.”

Eileen said her inspiration comes from various sources including Facebook, newspapers and her degree course.

She added: “For this competition it would be fair to say that my story was heavily influenced by one of the texts in the Second Year Post War British Writing English module – Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot - which we were studying at the time. Although I hope my short story is easier for people to understand than his play was for me.”

Wrexham Glyndwr University Creative Writing lecturer Mike Miles, whose book Eagle and the Lady-killer was recently published, said: “This prize is richly deserved. It’s wonderful to hear that talent and enthusiasm is now starting to have its rewards.

“Especially so, since Eileen has been so willing to learn, and has practised her craft on a daily basis.

“She has a natural writing style, an easy eloquence and is a born storyteller. I'm sure this will be the first of many accolades for her.”

Waiting for Gertie will be published in the Writing Magazine’s August edition, which is already out now and is available to read online at

Or visit Wrexham Glyndwr University Creative Writing courses for more information on the degree.