HER first performance left her shaking like a leaf but, after stepping up to her fears, Joy France has finally found her voice.

The secondary school teacher has always harboured a love of poetry but after a fateful meeting with stand-up poet Louise Fazackerley, who gave her the encouragement she needed, Joy plucked up the courage to give it a go.

“After one meeting I was hooked. I like the fact that poetry connects with other people and I have made so many friends through it.”

Joy has now finally put pen to paper and started to write her own poetry, which is based on some truth.

“I’m not one to write about daffodils or similar subjects. I mean that’s fine, but it’s not me. My poems are quite personal and emotional,” she added.

After four years, Joy decided to enter herself into the Warrington heat of the Superheroes of Slam Performance Poetry event at the Pyramid, performing to a packed audience.

To her surprise, the once shy schoolgirl was chosen as the winner of the heat and won a place in the final in Manchester.

“I was gobsmacked. I never expected it,” said Joy, from Lowton.

Despite battling against seasoned poetry performers, Joy was crowned the winner in the final and was the first woman to be awarded the accolade.

Joy is now encouraging others to give poetry a go and try something new this year.

“There’s nothing like it. When you are up on stage and see the audience’s reaction, it is something else,” she said.