JM Barrie Award

David Wood OBE receives 2017 JM Barrie Award

On 9th November 2017, much-loved children’s playwright David Wood OBE received the 2017 Action for Children’s Arts J.M. Barrie Award, in honour of his lifetime of unforgettable writing for children. The award was presented by six-year-old Sacha Lee-Khan in a ceremony hosted by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.


Sir Cameron Mackintosh personally welcomed assembled guests, before a ceremony that included speeches from Maureen Lipman CBE and ACA patrons Philip Pullman CBE and Judith Kerr OBE.

The J.M. Barrie Award is awarded annually by Action for Children’s Arts to a children’s arts practitioner whose work, in the view of ACA trustees, will stand the test of time. Previous recipients have included: Sir Quentin Blake CBE (2008) Roger McGough CBE (2009) Shirley Hughes CBE (2010) Lyndie Wright (2011) Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE (2012) Lynne Reid Banks (2013) Bernard Cribbins OBE (2014) Dame Jacqueline Wilson (2015) and Michael Morpurgo OBE (2016).

2017 is a marvellous year to celebrate David Wood’s life and achievements, as it is his 50th year of writing plays for children. He is an actor, playwright, composer, author, writer, director, producer and magician, who directs most of his own plays and writes the music for his songs. We think J.M. Barrie would be delighted to know that David has received an honour in his name; an honour that celebrates a lifetime of work dedicated to children, which will stand the test of time. He is indeed, a true and worthy recipient.

Action for Children’s Arts also presented a range of awards for excellence in Children’s Arts including an Outstanding Contribution Award to TV composer Liz Kitchen and five Members’ Awards to Daphna Attias of Peut-Être Theatre; Hollie Coxon and Anthony Hope – The Sunderland Empire Theatre Creative Learning Team; Jude Merrill – outgoing artistic director of Travelling Light Theatre; Kate Prince from ZooNation and Gillian Rennie from Seven Stories.

Vicky Ireland MBE Acting Chair of ACA said, “Children are the future. The arts practitioners who specialise in entertaining and inspiring them and triggering their imaginations deserve – Action for Children’s Arts believes – public recognition. This is the 13th year of the J M Barrie Awards. We are proud to honour David Wood OBE, Liz Kitchen and our Members’ Award winners. They are all brightly-shining beacons in the vibrant world of children’s arts.”

David Wood OBE to receive the JM Barrie Award 2017

This afternoon, the 20th June we held our Annual General Meeting at the House of Lords. At the close of the meeting, Vicky Ireland MBE announced that our Chair, David Wood OBE will be stepping down after nearly twenty years of outstanding service. We are so grateful to David for all his hard work representing ACA and are thrilled that he has accepted a new role as President of the charity.

Furthermore, we are pleased to announce that David will be the 2017 recipient of the JM Barrie Award! This award has previously honoured prestigious recipients such as Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and Sir Quentin Blake CBE. It is our immense pleasure to present this award to David, whose tireless work in children’s arts has inspired and influenced so many across generations.

The JM Barrie Awards 2016

The JM Barrie Awards 2016
Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for our annual JM Barrie Award celebrations last week. As ever, it was a wonderful reminder of all there is to celebrate in children’s arts and we are very grateful to the BBC for hosting.
Congratulations to Michael Morpurgo OBE, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award; Linda McClelland MBE, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution Award; and our five members award winners – Julian Butler, Nick Graham, Tom Jelley, AnneMarie MacDonald and Miaomiao Yu.
If you enjoyed the event as much as we did and are yet to become a member, please consider joining for only £30 a year:
To see more information on the day click here.



This year’s J M Barrie Award has been presented to the much-loved children’s author, Dame Jacqueline Wilson for a lifetime of unforgettable writing for children.

Jacqueline Wilson is one of the UK’s favourite children’s authors whose work is loved by her legion of loyal fans.   Best known for characters such as Tracy Beaker and the Victorian foundling child, Hetty Feather, over 38 million copies of her books have been sold in the UK and they have been translated into 34 different languages.   Jacqueline Wilson was Children’s Laureate from 2005-2007 when she spearheaded a campaign to encourage parents and carers to read aloud to children.   She was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to literacy in schools and then was awarded a DBE in 2008.   She is currently Chancellor of Roehampton University where she is also visiting professor of Children’s Literature.

Nick Sharratt, Jacqueline Wilson’s long-standing illustrator gave a tribute to Jacqueline as part of the ceremony accompanied by the present and previous Children’s Laureates.   Malorie Blackman OBE, Laureate from 2013-15 read the citation for the award and Hebe Russell, aged nine, along with Chris Riddell the current Children’s Laureate, presented Jacqueline with her award.   Other icons of children’s literature present in the audience included Michelle Magorian, Lynne Reid Banks, Jamila Gavin and Jan Pienkowski.

The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Sir Ken Robinson, inspirational advocate of creativity in education.   His talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is the most viewed in the history of TED and has been seen by millions all over the world.  Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, Chief Executive of The Place, delivered a tribute to Sir Ken, who, although unable to be present, sent an inspiring video. His award was collected by his daughter, Kate Robinson.

ACA Member’s Awards went to Carolyn Mairi L. Forsyth, Producer at the Unicorn Theatre, Sahana Gero, creator of Heart Beat Music Academy and Daniel Jamieson, playwright for Theatre Alibi.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of TIE, Trustees Awards to internationally acclaimed playwrights Mike Kenny and Charles Way.

David Wood OBE, chair of ACA said “Children are the future.  The arts practitioners who specialise in entertaining and inspiring them and triggering their imaginations deserve, Action for Children’s Arts believes, public recognition.  This is the 11th year of the J M Barrie Awards.  We are proud to honour Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ken Robinson and our Members’ Award winners, Carolyn Mairi L.Forsyth, Sahana Gero, Daniel Jamieson, Trustees’ Award winners Mike Kenny and Charles Way.  They are all brightly-shining beacons in the vibrant world of children’s arts.”