Poetry contest to honour memory of Gazette reporter Terry Kelly

Late Gazette reporter Terry Kelly.
Late Gazette reporter Terry Kelly.

Young poets are set to be honoured in memory of much respected Gazette reporter Terry Kelly.

A competition is being launched in honour of Terry, who passed away in January.

Terry, 57, covered the Jarrow and Hebburn areas, as well as writing business stories, for the Gazette for many years, as was much loved by his colleagues and readers.

He died after battling a virus for 14 months.

Terry was also a published poet and a contributor to the Larkin Society, which promotes the life and works of the poet Philip Larkin, and a member of the Literature and Philosophical Society in Newcastle.

To honour Terry, the Customs House has launched the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize for Young Writers as part of its annual Takeover Festival.

I wasn’t surprised when Terry became a published poet. He was passionate about all things literary and South Tyneside.

Ray Spencer

The Takeover is an annual arts festival organised by 15 to 25-year-olds, showcasing work by young creators and developing the skills and talents of young people interested in the arts.

Ray Spencer, executive director at the Customs House, knew Terry for many years.

He said: “Our new poetry competition is a lovely way of paying tribute to someone who served our borough so well over many years.

“I got to know him when we both used to get the No 310 bus to Sunderland to attend the polytechnic. Our discussions were usually about poetry or Bob Dylan.

“I wasn’t surprised when Terry became a published poet. He was passionate about all things literary and South Tyneside.”

The poetry competition is open now to poets aged 10 to 25.

Poems can be on any theme and be of any length, but only one poem per person can be submitted.

Judges will be Ray, Terry’s playwright and poet brother Tom Kelly, and Terry’s niece Fiona Martin, who is cultural development manager at the Customs House.

Prize money for the competition has been donated by two members of the Customs House’s Friends group. First prize will be £50, second prize will be £30 and third prize will be £20. Entries should be sent to Daniel Clifford at daniel@customshouse.co.uk before midnight on Friday, May 13.

The winners will be revealed on Friday, June 3, the last day of the Takeover Festival.

The festival starts on Monday, May 30 with a music-themed day. Various workshops and activities will be on offer throughout the festival.

To find out more, go to www.customshouse.co.uk