More than 175 primary school pupils have taken part in a workshop delivered by renowned children’s author and creator of the Jamie Johnson series of football novels, Dan Freedman.
In the second of a series of author events organised by Mid Ulster District Council as part of the Seamus Heaney Education Programme, the children heard Dan talk about his past work, his journey into writing and where it had taken him, including to the World Cup.
Mr Freedman’s journey into writing has been described as inspirational, progressing from being a huge football fan to actually working for the FA, quickly becoming an editor who interviewed every soccer star imaginable, including Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sir Alex Ferguson. He left his job in 2007 to concentrate on writing his novels- the Jamie Johnson series.
Six Primary Schools from the Dungannon area - Dungannon Primary School, St. Patrick’s Primary School, Dungannon, Bush Primary School, Windmill Integrated Primary School, St. Patrick’s Primary School, Donaghmore, and Donaghmore Primary School – took part in the workshop which was split over three sessions at Ranfurly Arts and Visitor Centre, Dungannon.
Every pupil was given a copy of Mr Freedman’s latest novel, Skills from Brazil, as a memento.
The event follows the workshop of the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, with 180 Cookstown primary school pupils at the Burnavon last month.
Speaking about the event, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said, “Dan’s workshop is the second author event in the Council’s Seamus Heaney Education Programme which aims to get local children writing and thinking creatively in advance of Seamus Heaney HomePlace opening in September.
“I have been seriously impressed by the education programme so far - anything that gets children using their imaginations and encourages them to read is definitely beneficial and is extremely fitting in celebrating and remembering Seamus Heaney.”
Mr Freedman said: “I really enjoyed meeting the pupils and talking books, football and reading with them. When I was younger, I was adamant that I hated reading but, as it turned out, writing and reading books has given me such joy and words have taken me to places I could never have imagined, including even the World Cup.
“I had a great time answering the pupils’ questions and hearing where they would like their words and ideas to take them and I hope they found what I had to say helpful.”
Mr David Thompson, Principal of Dungannon Primary School, added, “This was an excellent opportunity for our pupils to meet a well-known writer. Dan Freedman’s down to earth attitude has inspired the children and encouraged them to work even harder to develop further their own literacy skills.”
The Education Programme is being delivered by the Verbal Arts Centre on behalf of the Council and is part-funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
A further author workshop, and other activities, will take place in the coming months as part of the Council’s Seamus Heaney Education Programme.