Co Down schoolboy Dara McAnulty wins major UK literary award
A school boy from Northern Ireland has won a major UK literary prize.
Dara McAnulty, from Castlewellan, was awarded the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing for his first book - Diary of a Young Naturalist.
The 16-year-old, who appeared on the BBC NI series The Chronicles Of Erne, said winning the award was an "astounding moment" for all young writers and nature lovers.
The young man started writing his nature blog at aged 12.
The following year he started writing his debut book, a diary which chronicles a year of his life from spring 2018 to spring 2019.
As well as showcasing his love and observations of nature, the diary is also a personal journal dealing with family life, changing schools, bullying and his experience of being autistic.
The teenager described winning the award as "humbling".
In a video posted on Twitter, he said: "It is an astounding moment, not just for me but young people, young writers, young nature lovers.
"This tells our community that our voices matter, our ideas are worthy, our stories captivating," he said.
TV presenter Julia Bradbury, who chaired the judging panel, described Dara's writing as "remarkably astute and candid".
"This book would be good if it was written by anyone of any age," she told The Guardian.
"We felt it was a very important book to win because it will reach young people and that is vital.
"So we gave it to him both because of and regardless of his age - it is beautifully written."