Ed Peacock, the writing competition’s administrator, writes:

‘Anniversary’ was the suggested (but not compulsory) theme in this year’s BCSA writing competition. There are so many 8s to choose from: 1618, 1648, 1848, 1918, 1938, 1948, 1968 (and possibly even 1988+1!).

The winning entry, Britain and Bohemia – Five-and-a-Half Stories Celebrating the Czechoslovak Centenary by Rupert Brow, can be found here. It brings the author £400. Our picture shows Rupert (right) receiving his prize at the BCSA’s Annual Dinner in London on 23 November. Rupert lives with his family in Jablonec in the north of the Czech Republic, where he is a teacher, writer and proof-reader. His website is www.rupertbrow.cz.

The second prize of £150 has gone to Professor Gabriel Paletz, who teaches at the Prague Film School, for his Anniversaries of Alternative Eights – An Impossibly Optimistic Chronology of Czech and European History. This describes anniversaries in Czech history that haven’t happened or, rather, which had they happened as described would have had happier outcomes for all concerned.

There were several other quality and unusual entries. Among these was a love story, of an English student and a Czech girl parted by the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968. Another related the true story of the disappearance in Canada of Czech emigrants in 1928. Another true story was an account of the surprise of a British TV film crew on observing a church being moved, inch by inch, in Most in 1974. We could also see the suppression of a demonstration to mark Jan Palach’s death, linked with the demonstrations in November 1989 that led to Czechoslovakia’s freedom. In another, we heard six voices reflecting on the ills that have befallen that land from 1918 to 2018. In the factual essay form we had an analysis of President Benes’s decision to expel the German-speakers from Czechoslovakia after World War Two, and an account of the career of the Ostrava-born film director Karel Reisz. And we could listen again to President Havel addressing a crowd in Martin in 1990.

This year’s entries included many from beyond our own three home countries: firsts for us were writers living in Switzerland and Nepal. As in most years, choosing the two winners was difficult. But the judges have managed it. Thank you, judges.

‘Anniversary’ was our suggested theme but was not compulsory. The criteria for all submissions were, as before, that entries should have as their subjects either the links between Britain and the Czech or Slovak Republics (or their predecessor states), or society in transition in the Republics since 1989.

We shall be running the competition again in 2019. The terms and conditions will probably be the same as in 2018. The suggested theme has not been decided yet, but will be announced in due course. For more information or to express interest write to me at prize@bcsa.co.uk or 24 Ferndale, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 3NS.

Let me make my usual plea – if you’re entering, do please read the guidelines! 2018 was no different from before, a number of entries were disqualified (no matter how well written) because they did not deal with the prescribed subjects. That said, enjoy the writing!