Announcing the Journalists’ Charity/Dickens Fellowship competition WINNER

15 July, 2020

Winner David Whewell for Barbara Copeland: Cartoon by MAC


Thanks and congratulations to everyone who entered the Journalists’ Charity/Dickens Fellowship competition to find a new Dickens character for the 21st century. There were almost 300 entries in the competition to mark the 150th anniversary of the great writer’s death.

The competition was used to raise awareness (and funds) for the Journalists’ Charity which, having begun his career as a freelance Parliamentary reporter, Dickens helped found over 155 years ago.

Here a randomly selected 150 of the entries…which does, in fact, include the Judges’ top twenty are read by Journalists’ Charity trustee, Charles Garside, who wants everyone to know that the judging panel made their decisions only on the written submissions not on his rendition of them!

So much effort had gone into them by so many people he thought that, with the socially distanced aid of his son, photographer and creative director ,James Garside, he would use his lockdown to record one for each year of the anniversary.

The winning entry…Barbara Copeland by David Whewell can be found in Volume five at number 59.

The other short listed entries were:
Mattie Merrywinkle by Annie White: Volume One…number 1
Sylvia Woodward by Laura Tapper: Volume Four…number 43
Belinda Goshawk by Helena Young: Volume Twelve and a half…number 148
Ira, the hospital porter by Liz Hannam: Volume Twelve and a half.. number 150

For full recordings LISTEN HERE or see the Youtube playlist below:

Winner David Whewell for Barbara Copeland

Reading of winning character:

”Barbara Copeland organises the customers waiting outside B and Q . In her lighter moments, she likes to joke that she is the B of the Q and everyone laughs.  She also supervises kitchens, bathrooms and plumbing supplies.

When she is on Customer Sequencing duty, she stations herself at the automatic doors, feet slightly apart and watches. The queue shuffles uneasily. She is severe of eye and manner and takes the job very seriously, a Peregrine Falcon of the customer car park.

Barbara ( Barbs to the few who know her very well ) is not a tall woman but enjoys weightlifting and breeds German Shepherd dogs, her animals being much sought after by the military police.

Breathless and self – consciously patient, the line waits, wary and watchful. They know Barbara, either through experience or reputation, and they know that any infringement of social distancing will not be tolerated ; that it will be called out with no concession to any embarrassment. Care is required.

Suddenly, she’s had enough of silence. She looks at no one but addresses them all. Everybody listens.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you are here for more than a tin of paint. I’m a single mother and if I die, my boy will be in a care home. He’ll be an orphan. I’m putting my life on the line for your DIY!  “

She adds, ( some might say unnecessarily ),

“ So, stay away from each other and stay away from me! Two metres, for those of you in any doubt, is about the length of a coffin .“

Barbara now stares at them in turn and dares any defiance. None comes. Her tight- fitting, orange pinnie bristles with supportive outrage.

The line doesn’t know whether to murmur support or go home. They consider their options and the various risks. They all stay though some decide to select a bigger trolley, that is, when Barbara  beckons them forward to indicate that their time has come.”