Bexleyheath gran’s rhymes win £1,000 national poetry prize

PUBLISHED: 12:57 14 October 2016

Jan Bignell with her £1,000 prize

Jan Bignell with her £1,000 prize


She discovered her talents after writing a letter of complaint to a supermarket

A grandmother from Bexleyheath who discovered she had a knack for poetry after writing a letter to her local supermarket has become a national poetry champion.

Jan Bignell scooped a £1,000 prize after beating 10,000 other entries in the National Poetry Anthology after her daughter encouraged her to submit her creations.

The 74-year-old, who only started writing poems in 2013, said she was ‘gobsmacked’ when she was told she had won.

“I never imagined it really,” she added.

Mrs Bignell’s literary talents became apparent when she wrote a letter of complaint to her local Asda.

“When I finished the letter it was all in verse,” she said. “I got a reply back in verse and from then on it was just there. I didn’t have to think about it.

“Since then my children said that I always put little poems in cards. It wasn’t something that I thought was anything exceptional.

“I never wrote poetry at school. I liked English and literature and reading stories. I knew I could write stories but left it for a long time and never did anything.”

Mrs Bignell said she is inspired by “anything that goes on”. “I’ve got a lot of funny ones,” she added.

She recently read her poems to residents at a nearby nursing home, and she has been invited back to give another recital.

“Because I write it gives pleasure to different people and it is lovely to be able to do that, and to be able to make people laugh,” she said.

She has two grown-up children, Lynn and Glenn, who live locally, and five grandchildren - one of whom recently started writing poems herself.

“I told her anyone can write poems if you put your mind to it. She wrote a poem and it rhymed. She was inspired and she writes now and again.”

The National Poetry Anthology is free to enter, and budding bards can find out more information at

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