A YOUNG scriptwriter is enjoying national success after his film debuted in cinemas.

Toby Torlesse, a 23-year-old from near Sheriff Hutton, has adapted the Michael Morpurgo novel, Waiting For Anya, which follows the story of a 13-year-old shepherd who smuggles Jewish children across the French Pyrenees into Spain during the Second World War.

Toby started working on the script at 18 years old, during the summer before he started studying history at Edinburgh University.

“When I left school, I wrote to Michael asking permission to adapt Waiting For Anya - I was amazed when he said yes,” said Toby.

“The novel had always held a special place in my heart since reading it aged 14 years old.

“Unlike most war stories where good is ranged against evil, it showed that humanity can reside in places you least expect it, including the enemy.

“It was the first novel that really made me think.”

The script was filmed in the French Pyrenees in 2018, where Michael Morpurgo first heard the story of a woman who sheltered Jewish children in her barns.

Noah Schnapp, who currently features in the Netflix series Stranger Things, portrays Jo, a shepherd boy growing up in the mountain village of Lescun in France.

German soldiers arrived in the village to prevent Jewish refugees, many of them children, from escaping over the border to safety in neutral Spain.

Angelica Huston plays Widow Horcada, a woman from the village who hides the children, and with Jo’s help, looks after them until they can be guided to freedom over the mountains.

“It was important to us that the film was made in the very village where Michael had first heard the story of the lady who sheltered Jewish children,” said Toby.

“The whole journey has been an incredible experience for me as a scriptwriter, most importantly remaining true to the novel and the events that inspired it.”

Michael Morpurgo, author and former children’s laureate said: “This is, unquestionably, the best film adaptation of any of my books.

“I saw the story of Waiting for Anya in my mind’s eye as I was writing it, now all these years later, I have seen it on screen.

“Astonishingly beautiful and moving, it is a tribute to all those who have made it.”

Waiting For Anya is now on general release after recently premiering in London.