Family book proves an award winner for Richard Benson

Former Driffield School pupil Richard Benson earlier this month received his second award of the year for the book “The Valley”.

Richard, 49, won the Portico Prize, an award given for books based on the North of England, at Manchester’s Mecure Hotel.

Back in the summer, he received national recognition by winning the James Tait Black award for literature written in the English language. The book is a non-fiction piece on his mother’s family in wartime South Yorkshire.

Richard said: “When they said my name at the awards ceremony I was really surprised as I didn’t think that I would win.

“It’s great to receive an award from an organisation such as Portico and I think what makes it even nicer is the fact that the book is about my family.

“With it been quite biographical, my family had to open up about some fairly personal matters so it’s nice for them that the book was rewarded, too.”

Richard, who grew up in Wetwang, now lives in London. It is not the first book he has ever written about his family and wrote a book about his family’s farm in Wetwang nine years ago. There were five judges for the prize, with each having 100 books each that were then whittled down to a shortlist of five.

Richard spoke of his delight at simply being nominated as well as getting the opportunity to sit with one of his favourite childhood authors. “Alan Garner wrote plenty of well-known children’s books back in the 1960s and I used to read his books as I loved them. Some of them are still my favourite books now.

“It was a massive thrill to be on same list as him and a really great moment to be sat on same table.”

Richard also has plenty of ideas for books in the future but has one in particular that he is aiming to write next. “I’m hoping to write a novel on Yorkshire County Cricket, in particular during their dominance of the 1960s” he said. “They had a lot of personalities in that team so I think it’d be a great book to write. “My Dad was great admirer of Fred Truman who was part of that team and I think that his book was one of the earliest books I read.”

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