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Jesse Blackadder – 2016

“The first rule of writing is there are no rules”

Dr Jesse Blackadder was an international award-winning author of fiction and served on the Byron Writers Festival board from 2011 until her death in June 2020. Jesse conceived the idea for StoryBoard in 2015, which at the time of her passing had reached over 27,000 young people.

“Jesse emanated joy and drew out the beauty and potential in everyone she met. We will miss her dearly.’’

Edwina Johnson, Director of Byron Writers Festival

StoryBoard is perhaps Jesse’s greatest legacy. She had long dreamt of running a creativity and literacy program for kids, inspired by writer Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia project in San Francisco and the Story Factory in Sydney. 

Launch of StoryBoard Bus with Jesse Blackadder, Ben Franklin, Byron Public Schools students and the StoryBoard team – 2017

Research shows if young people are ‘language rich’ their opportunities to flourish increase.

Jesse with students – 2018

Jesse insisted that writing be fun. Her mantra was, “The first rule of writing is there are no rules!” In line with this, she landed on the idea of using a colourful bus to take local and visiting authors to run writing workshops in schools.

Jesse’s dream was to reach all children, not just kids who already knew they wanted to write, or who were gifted at writing – but also reluctant readers and writers. She taught a pilot program for StoryBoard out of Lismore Public Library – a class that continues to this day. 

The Jesse Blackadder Prize was created in 2020 in her memory. The annual short story prize, open to Stage 3 Primary students, is generously funded by donations made in her honour to the Jesse Blackadder Memorial Fund.

Jesse with students in 2019
Jesse with StoryBoard volunteer and life partner Andi.