AN AWARDS night in memory of a keen writer has been held for the first time.

Dylan Harding Jones,
recovery practitioner for mental health charity Hafal, started a group in 2016 to help those he supports to learn new writing skills.

The group – which is run with the support of Un Deg Un’s monthly ‘Voicebox’ spoken word event organiser Tim Humphreys-Jones, sees Hafal members meet fortnightly.

It attracted the attention of Wrexham writer Joe Roach.

Mr Roach, who had written a great amount of work including an unfinished novel entitled The Soul Collector, died from a sudden illness at the age of 57 on November 25 last year. 

Members of his family raised money and approached Hafal with the idea to run an annual event in his memory, which became a writing competition and award night.

On August 8 – the day before what would have been Joe's birthday – the first Roach Literary Award night was held for group members at Wrexham War Memorial club.

The event was attended by Joe’s widow Kim, members of Hafal, entrants of the competition and other family, friends and colleagues of Joe.

Mr Jones said: “Over a few months we ran a writing competition with the theme of stories from another planet.

“This was to represent Joe and his love for science fiction.

“Joe's imagination was unbelievable.

“He could see things I could not and have multiple narratives running at once in his mind until he found the one which kept the reader on pins.”

Mr Jones said there were prizes for first, second and third place.

He added: “The night was amazing and we had a bigger turnout than first expected – roughly 80 people came.

“We had a performance from Kim Choir, which is run by individuals who are affected by serious mental illness – carers or the individual themselves – and also a performance later on from friends of the family Sam and Ryan, who gave us an amazing interpretation of
Elton John’s Rocket Man, which was really fitting for the occasion."

The winner of the competition was Anna-Louise Edwards for her entry Just Over the Hill. Ian Baynes took second place with his entry Niasac and Jessica Davies was third with Stargazer. Emma Brown received a runner-up prize for The Scent of Flowers.

Mr Jones added: "The atmosphere on the night was really moving.

“One of the aims was to raise some money to go back into the competition for next year.

“So far we have raised £320 and we are going to push this so it grows and becomes an opportunity for individuals experiencing difficulties with mental illness to get involved and use their skills to help with the organisation and facilitation of the Roach Literary Award.”

Speaking of the club, Mr Jones said: "I believe it can be therapeutic.

“It allows people to learn how to write their own stories or poetry and also gets them to a group of like minded people where they can socialise and hone in on their interests.

“Writing is important. It is not for everyone but it allows you to put things on paper in a way which is personal to you but without letting the reader know that.”