KNUTSFORD'S finest young writers have once again been lauded following an annual writing competition.

Organised by the Knutsford Heritage Centre, the contest involved primary school and high school children in the town.

In its fourth year, the short story writing competition saw more than 350 stories read by KHC volunteers, all former teachers.

The winners were chosen from a short list of 30 with Bexton School, Yorston Lodge, Egerton Primary and Knutsford Academy coming out as winners.

This year the competition was judged by Allostock poet and writer Charlotte Peters-Rock, author and artist Tim Claydon-Butler and Guardian deputy editor James Wilson.

Tim has recently published his first book, ‘Highwayman Higgins’, which is the first installation of a proposed series called ‘Cranford Tales’ that illustrations of animal characters to bring narrative to life.

This year children across three age ranges – year 3 and 4, year 5 and 6 at the town's primary schools and year 7 and year 8 pupils at Knutsford Academy – were invited to enter with the brief being that they had to include the words 'watch', 'train' and 'candle' in their stories.

The winners were announced at a ceremony held at Waterstones in King Street.

Val Dawson, from the heritage centre, said the competition has gone from 'strength to strength'.

"Year on year, the entries have increased dramatically and this year we didn't have St Vincent's or Manor Park unfortunately, yet we still topped last years figure," she said.

"Next year should be a record year. It has become quite an established competition and next year will be the fifth year we have held it.

"All of the teachers are very co-operative and some of the children wrote them in their holidays and one teachers does it as a lesson, so it's really good of them to do that.

"It was so great that the kids had sat down with a pen and written the stories themselves - no computer, no iPads, just pen and paper and I think they enjoyed it."

Years 3 and 4 winner: Oliver Hammond Bexton School; runner-up Fabienne Leusch Yorston Lodge

Years 5 and 6 winner: Ben Senior Egerton School; runner-up Maddie Lucchi Yorston Lodge

Years 7 and 8 winner: Hannah Williams Knutsford Academy; runner-up Kieren Hamman.

An exhibition of the winning stories is currently on display at the heritage centre on King Street.