Amazing Grace: 1838 to 2012

Amazing Grace.'Catherine Dryden  plays Grace''Trevor Cuthbertson plays Ted.
Amazing Grace.'Catherine Dryden plays Grace''Trevor Cuthbertson plays Ted.

The winners of a song contest to celebrate a north Northumberland sea rescue heroine, linked with a new play, have been announced.

Over the last few weeks, dozens of new songs inspired by Grace Darling have been pouring in to the Woodhorn museum in Northumberland.

The songs from writers all over the country were entries into a special competition organised by the museum and archive and linked to the new play Amazing Grace by Tyneside-based writers Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood.

The judges for the competition were comedian Brendan Healy, BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown and Lindisfarne legend Ray Laidlaw, who expressed his surprise at the entries.

“I have to say that the general standard of the songs was way above what I was expecting,” he said. “The project seems to really have caught people’s imagination.”

Deliberations are now over and the six winners have just been announced as: Peter Carr, from North Shields, with The Girl with the Windswept Hair; Stan Graham, from Earswick in Yorkshire, with Grace Darling; Chris Kelly, from Lanchester in County Durham, with Grace; John Leslie, from Nedderton, with Dear Grace; John D Lewis, from Langton in Darlington, with Tie the Boat Down; John Pagan and John Harper, from Milnthorpe in Cumbria, with The Keeper’s Daughter.

The winning songs will be broadcast during the three-week tour of the play Amazing Grace, which premiered last night at Alnwick Playhouse to kick of its ten-theatre tour of the North East.

Woodhorn’s events and exhibitions officer Liz Ritson was delighted by the response to the competition.

“We received many more entries than we anticipated and in such a wide range of styles,” she said.

“It just goes to show that there is a huge amount of creative talent out there and a competition like this is a great chance for people to share it with the wider community.

“We were amazed at both the number of entries and the high standard of the songs.

“I’m sure our judges really enjoyed listening to all of them even if it was a really difficult task to select the final six winners. Grace was obviously an inspirational subject.”

• See the Gazette website today for a review of Amazing Grace.