Ed Balls has joined the judging panel for the Wicked young writer awards that recognise the creative talent of 5 to 25-year-olds.
The awards – established by the long-running musical Wicked and backed by the National Literacy Awards – are now in their seventh year.
Balls, the former shadow education secretary, joins children’s author Cressida Cowell, performance poet and writer Laura Dockrill, and ITV arts editor Nina Nannar.
This year the awards will again feature the For Good category for non-fiction, which encourages applicants to write essays or articles that recognise the positive impact that people can have on each other and the community.
Balls, who is a long-time fan of Wicked, and recently showed off his own rhythmic abilities as The Mask on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing says: “I’ve seen the production seven times and I’m always inspired by the message it shares with its audiences.
“Raising literacy levels and encouraging young people to express themselves through creative writing is an important mission that this award helps to champion. Everyone has a story to tell, and I can’t wait to read what young people across the UK have to share.”
The deadline for applications is March 27. For more details on how to apply, click here.