CREATIVE youngsters are being urged to put pen to paper for this year’s York and Area Pre-school Art Competition.

The competition, which is run by Terrington Hall School, in association with The Press and its sister paper, the Gazette & Herald, is in its third year.

It has proved a big success with nurseries and pre-school children, aged two to four, from across Ryedale, York and the surrounding area.

Last year, more than 500 artwork entries were submitted on the subject of best-selling children’s book Aliens Love Underpants, by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort.

This year, with the early years’ theme of minibeasts as its focus, the competition offers even more scope for young imaginations, said Veronica Whitfield, head of Terrington Hall Junior School.

She said: “There are so many subjects to choose from – butterflies, ladybirds, dragonflies, snails, worms, centipedes, bees, ants or grasshoppers – and a wealth of books to encourage children’s natural artistic creativity.

“Nursery favourites at Terrington Hall include Eric Carle’s timeless The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the rhyming text and bold illustrations of Mad about Minibeasts! by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz and the delightful Superworm by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.”

This year entries will be judged by children’s books illustrator and artist Simon Mendez.

Simon studied art at York Technical College, before gaining a degree in scientific and natural history illustration from Blackpool College. His varied career has ranged from advertising to illustrating children’s books, for which he has won a number of awards, including successive years at the Association of Illustrators. He lives in Terrington with his wife, five-year-old twins and Dillon the dog.

Mr Mendez said: “I am thrilled to have been asked to judge the competition. I have plans to illustrate a book on bugs later this year so it’s a good chance to keep an eye on the rising competition from the younger generation.”

Once again, artwork entries, including paintings or collages, are welcomed from nursery and pre-school children.

This year, every entrant will receive a ten per cent discount voucher from new competition sponsor, Hobbycraft.

Each child’s work will be considered and Hobbycraft vouchers totalling £120 awarded to the leading young artists at ages two, three and four and to the nurseries or registered pre-school they attend.

For the best overall entry from across all age groups, vouchers totalling £225 will be awarded to the child and their nursery or registered pre-school. There will also be ten £10 vouchers for highly-commended artists.

The prizes have been sponsored by local businesses Barnitts, Minster Alarms, Ray Chapman Motors and Rodgers of York, as well as Hobbycraft.

All entries will be on display at Terrington Hall School on Saturday, June 7, when Simon Mendez will be on hand to present the prizes for the most imaginative entries. Doors open at 10.30am. The fun-filled family morning will include children’s craft activities and light refreshments. All are welcome.

Jon Glen, Terrington Hall head teacher, said: “I am looking forward once again to viewing the entries for this competition.

“We are honoured that Simon Mendez has agreed to be our judge and I look forward to welcoming the competitors and their families to the exhibition.”

Individuals, nurseries and pre-schools (such as registered playgroups and registered childminders) wishing to take part should phone Terrington Hall School on 01653 648227 or email for an entry form. Closing date for receipt of entry forms is Friday, March 14. Closing date for receipt of artwork is Wednesday, April 30.