BLACKWOOD is set to become a creative arts hub when a children’s literature festival launches later this year.

The festival will form part of Blackwood’s Velvet Coalmine event this September, and will coincide with the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth.

In an official launch event at Blackwood Miners’ Institute last week, festival directors Iain Richards and Estelle Wilkinson addressed an audience of politicians, teachers and young poets about the its future.

Festival director Mr Richards, grew up in Blackwood and was thrilled at the “collective response and input into the nature of the event”.

“The overall point of Velvet Coalmine for me is about thinking of children’s literature as a fantastic way to generate creative thinking, imagination and develop entrepreneurial skills,” he said.

The official launch revealed exclusive plans for the festival, including an opening night dedicated to the Senghenydd Mining Memorial, Roald Dahl themed workshops and several guest writers.

The night included readings by children Kaylee-Beth Murphy, Naimh Easu, Noah Abraham and award-winning poet Clare Potter, alongside a speech from Islwyn’s MP Chris Evans.

Caerphilly county borough-based publisher Burst will also team up with Velvet Coalmine to produce a collection of poetry and stories sourced by children from the Blackwood area, it was revealed.

Following an initial meeting at Blackwood Primary School in November, 2015, the organisers established partnerships with many primary schools, alongside a three-year funding pledge from Blackwood Town Council.

The winning entries will see their work published in Burst's Putrid Poems and Despicable Brutes, a Roald Dahl themed collection with cover illustrations by Quentin Blake.

Simone Greenwood, of Burst, said: “I think it’s going to be a real boost for the town and a boost to help children believe in themselves and their own creativity.”

The festival organisers outlined several ways for investors to get involved, from sponsorship opportunities for local businesses to trading festival writer fees for literature workshops in schools.

The mayor of Caerphilly, councillor Leon Gardiner, pledged to personally donate £100 to the festival on behalf of himself and his wife.

He said: “Since I have been a mayor the talent my wife and I have found in Caerphilly is unbelievable and they are looking for places to expand their minds.

“The more that is done in this area, the more our children will have a better future and a better look at life.”

Mr Evans MP, added: "I think the wonderful thing about this festival is that we can encourage children to write down their dreams and let their imagination run riot on the page.

“The thing that Iain knows is that it’s not just us but it’s the future generations and the things that the children in the audience write will be there for time immemorial.”

For more information, visit: