A NEW storytelling initiative for children from a local cultural hub has been backed by a number of acclaimed authors.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland's 300 Words project is a creative writing competition which aims to both support the attraction's legacy of storytelling and children's engagement in the creative process of writing.

Authors including Sir Alexander McCall Smith, Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo), Jackie Kay (Ten Poems Of Kindness), Damian Barr (You Will Be Safe Here) and Alan Windram (One Button Benny) have all backed the project.

The competition encourages youngsters from around the Borders to write a story inspired by The Great Tapestry of Scotland itself.

The winners of the storytelling competition will be announced at this year's Borders Book Festival in June, and their stories will be displayed at the tapestry visitor centre in Galashiels.

And the Borders Railway Community Partnership will also provide three lucky winners will £250 worth of book tokens for their school.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre director Sandy Maxwell Forbes said: “With Scotland’s outstanding literary heritage at our roots, visually compelling storytelling at our heart and one of the world’s longest tapestries just bursting with inspiration in our centre, we are thrilled to launch our first ever 300 Words competition for children.

“Drawn from an idea by one of world’s best-loved authors, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is a truly mesmerising account of our nation’s history, heritage and culture. From the reactions of the thousands of children, young people and teachers we have already welcomed, we know they agree.

"With everything from great innovations and national icons to fictional characters and mythical creators, the Tapestry provides a fantastic creative muse for children and young people.

"We’re very excited to read the wonderful works of fiction that it inspires Scotland’s future literary stars to write and look forward to hosting a special event for to celebrate the winners at the brilliant Borders Book Festival.

“We would like to thank the festival and the Borders Railway Community Partnership for allowing us to offer such a fantastic prize.”

A panel of judges will be led by Sir Alexander McCall Smith, who said: "As a judge I will be looking for imagination and creativity so do try your hand.

"Even if fame and fortune do not result, it will be tremendous fun!”

On the importance of the tapestry, Sir McCall Smith added: “Alistair Moffat, one of Scotland’s finest historians and Andrew Crummy, the outstanding artist behind The Great Tapestry of Scotland, worked with over 1,000 stitchers to create this artistic treasure.

"In fact, it is now possible to say that this is one of the greatest community artworks of our time and that it is giving immense pleasure to people from all over Scotland and from many countries around the world.

"It is, quite simply, wonderful and the new 300 Words competition is a fantastic example of how it continues to extend its reach.

The 300 Words competition is open to three age groups: P3-5, P6-S1, and S2-4.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland has worked with Scottish Borders Council (SBC)'s Inspire Learning team to ensure the competition reflects Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.

Councillor Julie Pirone, executive member for communities and culture at SBC, said: “I am sure we will have many budding writers sitting behind desks in our schools all across the Scottish Borders.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have such an inspiring cultural hub on our doorstep telling the people’s story of Scotland, delivering jobs, making a huge contribution to our economy and helping to improving access to our home-grown culture for children and young people.”

Entries to the 300 Words competition close on Friday, May 3.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is currently open 9.30am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

In addition to its two galleries, the centre is home to a café, Discovery Centre and shop, which sells a range of products including books, crafts and gifts.

For more information visit greattapestryofscotland.com