TWO old friends from Darwen swept the board at an annual writers club prizegiving.

Jim Atherton and Frank Gibson won four of the Edwin Waugh Dialect Society’s annual awards.

Mr Atherton, 86, won the Edith Grayshan cup for best standard English language poem on a Lancashire theme, and the Vicar Shaw Trophy for best poem overall, for A Lancashire River.

He also won the President’s Cup, for a standard English poem on any subject, for Brown Eyes Laughing In The Rain.

Mr Gibson, 75, won the Harry Craven Cup for the best piece of dialect prose of up to 2,000 words.

Mr Atherton, of Waterfield Avenue, said: “We have cleared the deck in Rochdale have us Darreners. And it is a pair of oldies that have pulled it off! There are some in the society who are a lot younger.

“I have written 674 poems in my life and won about 24 different cups.”

Mr Atherton said he took up writing when he retired from work as an engraver.

He also does recitals and has donated thousands of pounds to charities including Derian House, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Wythenshawe Hospital heart transplant unit and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mr Gibson, of Pole Lane, said: “It was good fun to go and win in Rochdale.

“I have always written sin-ce I was younger, but I started writing publicly about 20 years ago.

“Jim and I, despite having very different personalities, are good friends and we have travelled around a lot together.”

Edwin Waugh was a much-celebrated 19th-century poet from Rochdale who wrote a lot about Lancashire.

The Edwin Waugh Society was formed in 1938 by Lancashire dialect enthusiasts.

It states its objectives as being ‘the maintaining and increasing of interest in the Lancashire dialect’.

A Lancashire River (excerpt)

I started my life as a moorland spring
That is where I first became a living thing
Never thinking of the joy I would bring
To every living creature
I was spawned up high on the rim of the moor
And as I trickled my way along the peaty floor
I knew from the start, although but poor
I was part of mother nature
From up on those tops I tumbled down
Through bluebell woods then into the town
Where soon my waters peaty brown
Were put to work for man
For I turned the water wheel in Arkwright’s shed
As over its wooden panels I sped
Then landed noisily foaming in my bed
Yes! I would help folk where I can
Then I dropped into a culvert, out of sight
And for half a mile I never saw the light
This kind of treatment did not seem the right
Way to treat a helpful friend like me
And on coming out I was met by a spout
Whose effluent came all a-pouring out
That devilish brew I could have managed without
But it was the way things had to be
But soon I flowed through Lancashire’s countryside
As I widened my banks and swelled with pride
And other streams entered me as I truly tried
To become a part of the rural scene
Jim Atherton