A STORYTELLER has been awarded the status of a hero in the literacy world.

Richard O'Neill has been recognised as a National Literacy Hero by the Literacy Trust alongside nine others including Harry Potter author J.K Rowling.

Richard, who draws much of his inspiration from his childhood in Lowton, has spent the last ten years travelling the country and telling his stories in schools and universities.

The 51-year-old said: “I was really surprised when the Literacy Trust called me up out of the blue and told me I had been nominated and then they told me I had won one of the ten awards, it was unbelievable.

“I often get positive feedback from children and their teachers who can’t believe they sat still for an hour just listening to me but that they would actually nominate me is amazing.”

The winners were presented their certificates at Clarence House in London in December by Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall.

Richard said: “I have been doing this for about 10 years but I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house on Kenyon Lane and even now the mills, the industry and the history of the area still inspires my writing.

“We didn’t have a television until I was nine or 10 so stories were all I knew.

“The stories I tell in schools vary depending on what their teachers require but my aim is to show children that the best inspiration for a story is all around them and not on the internet.

“Children are the best storytellers; they just need to know how to transfer them onto paper.”

Other winners that were nominated by the public and then decided by a panel of experts that included author Joanna Trollope and entrepreneur Levi Roots, included Happy Days star Henry Winkler who was recognised for his work with dyslexic children.