Flamstead author’s new book nominated for national prize

Ian Ridley and Vikki Orvice.

Ian Ridley and Vikki Orvice. - Credit: Archant

A Flamstead sports journalist is on the shortlist for a national literary prize.

Ian Ridley’s latest work has been nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, which carries a first prize of £30,000.

The Breath of Sadness was written after the death of Ian’s wife last year.

Sports journalist Vikki Orvice died from cancer aged just 56, and the book is a poignant, tender and candid exploration of love, loss and grief played out against the backdrop of a season watching county cricket.

Ian, former chairman of St Albans City FC said: “Wow. What an honour. A big reason for writing the book - alongside helping me to try and work through my grief and maybe to help others who have lost people close to them as so many have this year - was to tell the world what an amazing woman Vikki was. Hopefully this wonderful accolade will help spread the word about her.”

Vikki was the first woman football reporter appointed to the staff of a tabloid newspaper when she joined The Sun in 1995, going on to become the paper’s athletics correspondent and covering five Olympic Games.

Her funeral in Flamstead, where she was co-founder of an annual book festival, was attended by around 500 people, including major figures from the worlds of sport and media.

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There were a record 152 entries for the William Hill prize, whittled down to a longlist of 15 before this week’s announcement of the shortlist of five.

The Breath of Sadness joins Born Fighter by Ruqsana Begum with Sarah Shephard, The World Beneath Their Feet by Scott Ellsworth, The Unforgiven by Ashley Gray and The Rodchenkov Affair by Grigory Rodchenkov on the shortlist.

Each author receives a prize of £3,000 for making the shortlist, along with a leather-bound copy of their book.

The winner of the £30,000 top prize will be announced on Thursday, December 3 at a ceremony at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.