A film academic has been named this year’s MA Creative Writing winner in the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize 2013.

Jenny Barrett, Programme Leader for Film Studies at Edge Hill University, scooped the £500 prize for her story The Last Day at Woolworths during a special ceremony in London.

Her tale – about an elderly lady who loves crosswords and decides to go shoplifting on the day that the iconic British store closes down – was praised by judges for being very believable, moving and for its strong characterisation.

“It was such an honour to win,” said Jenny. “On the night it was a tremendous experience to meet lots of talented writers, publishers, journalists and other influential people who all have different perspectives within the literary industry. Everyone seemed so interested in what I was writing about and it was fantastic to meet so many like-minded people.”

Despite her day job in academia discussing films, Jenny has always loved reading and writing so decided to study an MA in Creative Writing at her place of work.

“Although I’m surrounded by films every day I’m very passionate about the written word,” said Jenny. “Fiction on the page is very different to the big screen. I’m not a filmmaker but I can write, which is why I started penning my own stories a few years ago. However, it can be quite isolating so I wanted to spend time with people who also write. I kept getting this tap on my shoulder saying, write, write, write and decided that I wanted to study the subject.

“At first I thought it would be weird to be a student as well as an academic at Edge Hill but I genuinely believe in life-long learning and I love the idea of doing something new. The MA has been fantastic for me because it is motivating me to write more and enter competitions. It is such a fulfilling process and it has made me be a lot more disciplined.”

The 45-year-old, originally from Berkshire, had never tried writing short stories until she started her MA but it is a genre she has adapted to quickly.

“It’s tough to be able to write within such a small, succinct place, and is very different to writing novels, but I really like it and want to branch out more into this style. That’s the beauty of the MA though because it allows you to explore so many genres,” said Jenny.

“I’d recommend the MA Creating Writing course to anybody interested in expanding their knowledge and skills because it’s suitable for so many types of writers. You need to be committed to reading and writing and be prepared to read books you’re not normally exposed to. Most of all, grasp the opportunity to experiment.”