Julia Eccleshare (Chair)
Julia Eccleshare is the children’s director of the Hay Festival and head of Public Lending Right policy and advocacy and a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row and Open Book programmes. Julia is the Chair of the Judging Panel.
Urmi set up specialist children’s bookshop Pickled Pepper Books in 2012. The shop has a café attached and runs lots of author events and children’s parties. Prior to Pickled Pepper, Urmi was a researcher and editor working with voluntary sector organisations. She studied at Birmingham University.
Philip Womack was born in Chichester in the middle of a thunderstorm in 1981. He is the author of six critically acclaimed novels for children: two stand-alones: The Other Book (2008) and The Liberators (2010); The Darkening Path trilogy (The Broken King, The King's Shadow, The King's Revenge). The Double Axe, a re-imagining of the minotaur myth, was published in early 2016. The Arrow of Apollo, an adventure that takes place in the ancient mythical past, is currently crowdfunding on Unbound.
Philip was educated at Lancing, and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read Classics and English. He is currently a Contributing Editor at Literary Review and writes for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other papers. He teaches Children's and Young Adult Fiction at Royal Holloway University, and is Patron of Reading at the John Roan School in South London.
He has taught workshops on Greek Myth, Greek Tragedy and How to Write Children's Fiction for the How To: Academy and was a Fellow of First Story.
In 2014, with Clementine Macmillan-Scott and Anna Baddeley, Philip co-founded the magazine SCOOP, now published with Sarah Odedina as its editor-in-chief.
Helen Swinyard is Learning Resources Centre Manager, Heartlands High School, London and the founder of the Haringey Children’s Book Award. Now in its fourth year, the award aims to encourage children in primary and secondary schools to come together and engage in reading and discussing books, meeting authors and actively voting on their favourites. Helen completed the MA in Children's Literature at the NCRCL in 2003, and realised that being a school librarian is an exciting way to pursue her love of children's literature.
M.G. (Maya) Leonard
M.G. (Maya) Leonard is an award winning, bestselling writer of books, poems and screenplays. She has a first-class honours degree in English literature from the Open University and an MA in Shakespeare Studies from Kings College London. She works as a freelance Digital Media Producer for clients such as the National Theatre, and Harry Potter West End, and previously worked as a Senior Digital Producer at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe.
She spent her early career in the music industry running Setanta Records, an independent record label, and managing bands, most notably The Divine Comedy. After leaving the music industry, she trained as an actor, dabbling in directing and producing as well as performing, before deciding to write her stories down. Maya lives in Brighton with her husband and two sons.