AN INSPIRATIONAL finale from a best-selling author brought the 10th Swindon Youth Festival of Literature to a close at Lawn Manor Academy yesterday.

Patron for Reading Joffre White gave an animated talk to students from all 11 Swindon secondary schools about how he became a writer, the benefits of reading regularly, and dealing with hurtful messages from bullies.

Joffre said: “The one thing that all ultra-successful people have in common is they all read a lot: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, heroes who have changed the world with their ideas.

“Words can inspire but they can also destroy your self-worth.

“Don’t let somebody else’s ignorant hateful words affect who you are, these messages horrible people send to you have no value.”

Before the finale, performance poet Ash Dickinson returned to Swindon for his seventh appearance at the festival, hosting interactive poetry workshops at each school throughout the week.

At Kingsdown School, pupils seemed especially eager to get involved, with one pupil cheering and pumping his fist when he was chosen to come up in front of the crowd to read his haiku.

The Year 7 pupils eagerly scribbled weird and wonderful haikus about books, building sandcastles, bad fortune cookies, outer space, and finding the Loch Ness monster.

Ash then taught the audience about a form of poetry called a clerihew, which is a comic verse with rhymes about a famous person or character, and encouraged them to make up their own.

Ash said: “Children are very open and receptive at this age so I keep my talks lively and fast and show how fun and relatable and cathartic poetry can be.

“It went really well, everyone got involved and they wrote some very good poems in such a short amount of time.

“I have a brilliant job - my hobby became my vocation, which is everyone’s dream, and I really enjoy getting other people interested in poems.”

Head of English Sharna Manners said: “It’s always an amazing event, it helps to promote a love of reading outside of school and we are so lucky to have this festival.

“It’s great for us as teachers because the pupils love talking about what they’ve experienced afterwards and it really motivates them.”

Lin Curtis, Learning Resource Centre Manager for Kingsdown School said: “It’s been a fabulous week.

“It feels like it’s been five minutes since the last festival and soon we’ll start planning the next one.”

Fiona Hardcastle, who organises the festival, said: “Once again we have been able to bring the novels of some of the talented authors that line our library shelves to life .

“This success is reflected in the enthusiasm the students have had to borrow those books following the various author visits.

“I am always being told how unique this festival is, with all the librarians across the town working together to promote reading to our students, and I really do think we have something truly special here.

“The 10th anniversary has been no exception - with 8,000 students involved, it has been a true celebration of reading, writing and creativity, and long may it continue.”