TLC Free Read Winners 2017

June 12, 2017 | Other News

We are delighted to announce, in line with the regional TLC Free Reads opening for the financial year 2017-18, this year’s cohort of TLC-selected Free Read writers. These are the first of the writers selected for 2017, for their promising works-in-progress, and each writer will receive a TLC manuscript assessment of their work as part of their writing development process.

In 2016-17 the TLC Free Reads scheme reached 92 low-earning, talented writers through our 17 regional literature development partners. Bursaries were awarded to aspiring novelists, poets, short story writers, playwrights and writers for radio. Of these, 32% were BAME writers, and 16% were disabled writers. 33% of allocations were for completed manuscripts with the rest offered to writers submitting extracts of work in progress. 62% of Free Reads were awarded to female-identifying writers, and 35% to male-identifying writers.

We are so pleased to see several Free Read writers enjoying success this year: Kate Hunter’s The Case Room was published by Fledgling Press, Anna Mazzola’s The Unseeing was published by Tinder Press, and Winnie M Li’s Dark Chapter was published by Legend Press. We were also delighted to welcome many of our partners to the Free Word Centre on May 12th to discuss the scheme and hear from Free Readers Akeem Balogun, Michelle Shakespeare, Deborah Alma (now published by The Emma Press) and Sharon Duggal (now published by Bluemoose Books). We look forward to seeing where our 2017 writers end up, and wish them all every success in their writing journeys which we are so proud to be part of.


Leonie Abrahamson

Leonie was a nursery teacher, early years lecturer and teacher trainer for twenty five years.  In 2005 she co-edited a DofE sponsored publication promoting innovative and creative approaches to teaching: ‘Gatekeepers, Midwives and Fellow Travellers: The Craft and Artistry of the adult educator.’

Leonie’s most recent publications are three early years text books: ‘The Early Years Teachers’ Book’ (2015) which will soon be in its second edition, ‘Preparing for Your Early Years Initial Teacher Training’ (2016) and ‘Personal and Professional Development for the Early Years Workforce’ (2016). These promote early educators’ wellbeing, personal and professional development and encourage a holistic and person-centred approach. Leonie has an MA from the Tavistock Centre in Emotional Factors in Teaching and Learning. She specialises in the impact of trauma on thinking and learning and draws on this in her next manuscript.

Leonie has been awarded a TLC Free Read for her manuscript, ‘The Accidental Chihuahua’. It is a humorous, but informative exploration of alternative approaches to rehabilitation after a stroke, and features the world’s smallest assistance dog. 

Paul Arrowsmith

Paul formed his own amateur  youth drama company at the age of twenty  with most of the material was either written by him or adapted from existing sources. He then went on to become Creative Director for a Theatre in Education company to take school assemblies, classes and extra-curricular activities for a Christian Charity and group of churches in the North East. The company performed using drama, puppets, action songs, and interactive media in over thirty schools, both primary and secondary. Once again most of the material was either written by Paul or adapted from exciting sources.

In 2011 Paul was awarded a place on the MA for Screenwriting & Television at ‘The Northern Film School, Leeds,’ where he was awarded a bursary from Film 4 for a disabled student who demonstrated industry potential. Since graduating he has been optioned five times and been supported by Film 4, The UK Film Council, Northern Film & Media and various production companies.

Paul has been awarded a TLC Free Read for his book, ‘Leonardo – The Divine Proposition’. It is an epic drama/mystery thriller based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci during the period he lived in Milan and painted ‘The Last Supper’.

Jeremy Gavins

Jeremy is a sixty three year old, single gay man. He lives with his dog, in a small terrace house in a small market town in South Cumbria. He started work in the textile industry nearly fifty years ago. Due to mental health problems which made academic work impossible, Jeremy had to change jobs several times before becoming a self-employed professional dry stone walling contractor in the Lake District. He loves his job and says that he lives to build dry stone walls and not that he builds walls just to make money to live.

When Jeremy  is not working on the Lakeland farms and fells, he spends all his spare time walking in the Lakeland Fells with his dog Timmy. Jeremy has no published writing experience. If he is successful with this book, he has two more book ideas in mind.

Jeremy has been awarded a TLC Free Read for his memoir, ‘The Stonewalls of My Mind’. It follows his life in a Catholic Household in Yorkshire, where sex and love are taboo subjects. Sex on TV is deemed to be sinful; homosexuality especially so. He feels unloved and fears his parents finding out he is gay.

John Milroy

John was born in Glasgow, attended the University of Stirling and the University of California, Irvine, and has published in local, university and national press on political issues. Post university he worked for the British Council in Japan and began to write for the screen. On returning to the UK, John wrote research reports on social, environmental and market issues while acting on the Fringe prior to attending a three year professional acting training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since leaving Guildhall John has collaborated on many devised and improvised projects and has co-written and polished for theatre, film, adverts and corporates, while acting in theatre, on TV, in Film and Radio, has narrated documentaries, recorded voiceovers and worked extensively as an ADR artist. John most recently wrote a film script on commission for M&R Films, and had the improvised film, ‘Brakes’ screened at the BFI.

John has been awarded a TLC Free Read for his playscript, ‘The Water Hyacinth of the Niger Delta’. The play follows an industrial engineer, who after taking a job for an oil company in Nigeria, ends up in the middle of hostage situation when his compound is attacked by an armed group of political rebels.

Dan Ollerhead

Dan is a 21-year-old writer and director from Manchester. At 16 his first short film was nominated for best student film at the Screen Stockport Film Festival, since then he has directed the feature film The Collaborators written by John Hardwick and received a 1st class degree in Film Production. Dan continues to make award-winning short films, music videos and commercials.

Dan has been awarded a TLC Free Read for his film script, ‘The National Patriach’. It is the story of a 16-year-old Irish girl who, upon getting pregnant, must fight against religious constraints and head to the UK to have a safe abortion without her Roman Catholic parents finding out.


Mark Tuohy

Mark left school at eighteen to work in social care and ten years later qualified as a social worker. He worked with a wide range of vulnerable adults, young people and community groups. While thoroughly enjoying this work, eventually the increasing levels of pain his disability forced him to retire from  working full time. Fortunately back in 1998 Mark entered and won a playwriting competition at The Bush Theatre in London and this subsequently led to a number of drama commissions at Radio 4. He also wrote a novel called The Tide which was published in 2005 by Mercat Press to some very favourable reviews. In recent years despite various interventions, his neurological condition remains precarious but he has continued to write and involve himself in community work when I can. Writing is very much a lifeline for Mark, and it helps to keep his focus positive.

Mark has subsequently completed two more novels, Tiny Stars which has been highly commended, and now Shelter which he thinks is his most ambitious novel yet. This is the first time Mark has opened up about his disability to the writing community and it feels like an important step for him.

Mark has been awarded a TLC Free Read for his novel ‘Shelter’. It is a contemporary thriller about a man wrongly convicted for murder and his relationship with a homeless hotel worker, and his attempts to come to terms with his life after he is released from prison.