A POPULAR festival for young people is returning for its 13th year.

The team behind the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature has confirmed it will go ahead after receiving funds from Swindon Association of Secondary Heads.

The Deanery Academy will be taking part for the first time. It opened its doors in September last year.

Kate Murphy, who works in the library at Dorcan Academy, welcomed the news.

She said: “This funding is so important for this collaborative project. We realise it is a great way to get schools together.

“All the schools work together to put this festival on, it showcases how involved we are with the community. To have the support of the SASH is so important to us so it’s really nice they encourage this and that we can run on for another year.”

The festival was founded by Fiona Hardcastle, who stepped down in 2017 and handed over the mantle to Kate.

In the last 12 years schools across Swindon have taken part but that number will grow with The Deanery signing up. So far, more than 100,000 youngsters have taken part.

Last year alone 5,000 pupils were involved and even more are expected this year.

Kate told the Adver: “We have had thousands of children over the years.

"It’s all free and the events at the festival get full really quickly because of how popular they can be with the students. The festival can be life-changing for some of them, it’s lovely to see.”

Authors, poets and illustrators meet and inspire students.

Last year the festival saw adult-novelist and award-winning storyteller Annabel Pitcher appear at the Wyvern Theatre.

And Swindon-born writer Karen Gregory and Helen Dennis, Sarah Mussi, and Dave Cousins all returned for another year.

This year’s line-up isn’t finalised yet as as organisers were waiting to see whether they would have the funds to stage it.

Kate said: “Even authors and writers from Swindon have been there. It’s been going on for quite a while now and I hope it keeps running for much longer.”

The festival also hands out awards and stages a creative writing competition, for which entrants must write a 500-word story inspired by an image. There is also a poetry competition, with a different theme chosen every year.

It will be run for a week at a date yet to be announced. Last year's event was staged in November.