Michael Morpurgo has been awarded the J M Barrie Award for his contribution to children’s literature. The award, which champions the arts for children, is now in its 12th year and is being presented today at a ceremony held at the BBC Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House, London.
Storymaker, playwright and performer, Michael Morpurgo’s work reaches across the arts. He is the author of over 140 books, and his novels have been adapted into hugely successful productions for both the stage and screen. Most notably the National Theatre’s production of War Horse, and more recently Kneehigh’s production of “946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips” at the Globe.
His ‘best story’, as Michael says, was founding the charity ‘Farms For City Children’ with his wife Clare. It began 40 years ago, and Michael and Clare have since received MBE’s for their work in education. Now working across three farms, the charity offers around 3,000 children a year from inner city schools the chance to spend a week living and working on a real farm.
Michael Morpurgo was appointed Children’s Laureate from 2003-2005, a role that originated from an idea between Michael with his good friend, poet Ted Hughes back in 1997, which has continued to champion and highlight the work of children’s authors and illustrators. In 2006 Michael was made an OBE for his work in children’s literature.
The J M Barrie Award is presented by Action for Children’s Arts and is given annually to a children’s arts practitioner whose lifetime’s work has delighted children and will, in the opinion of the charity’s trustees, like J M Barrie’s Peter Pan, stand the test of time. Previous winners have included Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Judith Kerr OBE, Sir Quentin Blake, Bernard Cribbins OBE and Roger McGough CBE.
Michael Morpurgo said: ‘JM Barrie, or Peter Pan, tells us: ‘The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it’. Storymakers and storytellers like Barrie, and like all the previous winners of this award, have given us the hope and faith children need, we need, to keep flying, have sustained us through dark and troubled times, have banished doubt. To touch the lives of children, to witness their listening and reading silence, is reward enough in itself. This is simply the icing on the cake. Icing is best tasted while still in the mixing bowl, on the end of finger. This is an icing sugar day. Thank you, and thankyou dear Mr Barrie, and Peter. I’ll keep flying’.
David Wood, OBE, Chair of Action for Children’s Arts said: ‘One of our greatest storytellers, Michael Morpurgo has thrilled and delighted huge numbers of young readers since becoming a children’s author in the early 1970s. Action for Children’s Arts is delighted to recognise Michael’s outstanding contribution by presenting him with the JM Barrie Award 2016. His work will undoubtedly, like Peter Pan, stand the test of time, making him a truly worthy recipient of this Award.’
Other awards to be presented at the ceremony are the ACA Members’ Awards, recognising children’s arts unsung heroes. And the Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Arts 2016 will be given to Linda McClelland, Education Coordinator, National Galleries of Scotland.