IF proof were needed that the Bridport Prize is a truly international and prestigious event it was provided at Saturday’s prize giving at the arts centre.

Not only did many of the international winners come in person to collect their awards from judges Wendy Cope, Michele Roberts and David Swann, but Peter Chapman-Andrews, son of prize founder Peggy, brought in a letter to his mother from the competition’s first patron John Fowles.

Bridport Prize co-ordinator Frances Everitt said it was amazing to see the letter, which will form part of the arts centre’s 40th anniversary celebrations next year.

The letter, written to Mrs Chapman-Andrews praised both her and the prize, saying: “You certainly do seem to be international, of which I very much approve.

“I bless you for all you have done to make the competition so big and well-known. Us writers really depend on you far more than we usually have the decency to say. Serious good wishes, John Fowles.”

Ms Everitt said it was lovely to see so many of the winners attend the prize giving.

She said: “We had a lovely lot of winners come. Sadly the short story prize winner Eve Thomson was disappointed she couldn’t come because her daughter was getting married.

“The prize winner of the flash fiction Nicholas Ruddock who is a GP in Canada came with his wife. His story Polio was just two sentences long and was amazing.”

Flash fiction judge David Swann said: “The 50 writers on this year’s shortlist prove what a flexible and fascinating form the micro-story remains.”

American Dima Alzayat, who is doing her MA in Edinburgh, flew down for her highly commended prize.

The poetry winner Daisy Behagg was highly commended last year and won the top prize this year.

And the youngest-ever winner was Jenny Danes, 18, who was highly commended for poetry and who is just starting her English literature degree at Newcastle University.

The highest placed Dorset winner was Virginia Astley, who was highly commended for her poem. She is also a musician and played the flute in Bucky Doo Square in the morning, accompanied by her daughter on the harp.

Author Michèle Roberts judging the short story category said: “I admired and enjoyed many of the stories.”