All smiles! Judges (l to r): Hunter Davies, Fiona Armstrong & Eric Robson relax after the prize-giving at Armathwaite Hall, July 2017.
Founder of the Lakeland Book of the Year 33 years ago, Hunter Davies is one of Britain's most prolific authors, having written over 70 books on subjects as diverse as the Beatles and Hadrian's Wall. Hunter grew up and went to school in Carlisle before going on to Durham University. He started his writing career with a holiday job as a student on The Carlisle Journal. In 1960 he joined The Sunday Times in London where he became Chief Features Writer and ultimately Editor of the magazine. He writes regular columns for several papers including the Sunday Times on money, The New Statesman on football and Cumbria Life on any old thing really. Hunter is well known for his books on the Lake District and his best-sellers include acclaimed works on Wordsworth and Wainwright. His travel books include A Walk along the Wall and A Walk around the Lakes - both reprinted in updated editions. As a ghost writer he has written Paul Gascoigne's story and John Prescott's "Prezza - My Story: Pulling No Punches". Last year he had three new books published: "The Co-Op's Got Bananas!", his memoirs of growing up in Carlisle; "Lakeland - A Personal Journey"; and "The Beatles Book". The second volume of his memoirs, "A Life In the Day", is being published in the very week of these awards. For the last thirty years he has spent half of each year at his Lakeland home at Loweswater. He was married for 55 years to the novelist and biographer Margaret Forster who died last year.
Fiona Armstrong is Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries, a broadcaster and writer, now presenting "Border Life", a current affairs programme for ITV Border which sees her making films on diverse subjects from prisons to butterflies. She also works as an occasional newscaster with BBC News and writes columns for Scottish and American newspapers. Fiona is a former ITN presenter and reporter, which took her to places like Uganda, West Africa and Cambodia. As a producer she has made films on subjects ranging from clan history, to politics, to wildlife. Fiona has presented antiques and cooking programmes. She fronted "Executive Lifestyles" for NBC, and has worked with BBC World News and Radios Two and Four. One of her great loves is fishing and she has fronted a TV series, "Fiona on Fishing", and presented Sky TV's "Tight Lines" programme. She has written two fishing books. Passionate about history, she has made more than twenty films on Scottish clans and families and writes for American magazines on Scottish history. She is married to the Chief of Clan Gregor and has written a biography of a family member who was literary confidante to Queen Victoria.
Eric is a writer and broadcaster who has made programmes for BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for more than 40 years. For many years he was a BBC outside broadcast commentator working on all the great State occasions - Remembrance Sunday, Trooping of the Colour, Royal events and the handover of Hong Kong. For over 20 years he's been chairman of one of the world's longest running broadcast programmes, Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time. His books include "Great Railway Journeys of the World", "The Border Line", a history of the Anglo/Scottish border and "After Wainwright", a memoir of the years he worked with Britain's most famous fell walker. His latest book, "Abroad" - a great railway journey round the Lake District in the company of the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know - was recently published but sadly, as he is a judge, is not eligible for the Hunter Davies prize. He is Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, a trustee of Tullie House Museum in Carlisle and a Deputy Lieutenant for Cumbria.
In this, our 33rd
year of the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Awards we are delighted and proud to be able to continue our partnership with James Cropper of Burneside
. Whether formally acknowledged or not, virtually all of the hard backed books entered in these awards will be printed on James Cropper paper, so this association is both apt and appropriate and we are enormously grateful to both Sir James Cropper and Mark, his son, for continuing their support for us. It is a great honour to be associated with such an iconic Cumbrian business.