Thank you for considering the first 500 words of ‘Trash or Treasure?’ – a humorous middle grade adventure, complete at 45,000 words.

My story follows eleven-year old Freddie, who stages a Roman hoax to save the local park from closure and win the attention of her absent dad.But when Freddie invites Dame Gilda Goldfink, popular host of TV show ‘Trash or Treasure?’ to investigate, she discovers the park is already full of secrets, some of them are dangerous and Gilda might not be quite as lovely as she seems.With the assistance of her eccentric grandpa, Freddie mustface up to sinister forces, who will stop at nothing to get what they want – even bribery, a secret archeological dig and kidnap. But can Freddie find a missing Charter before time runs out, the park and its treasures are lost forever and her dad moves away for good?

I hope you will enjoy Freddie’s daring spirit and her friendship with her grandpa, which is at the heart of the story. I love the thread of the extraordinary in an ordinary world that features in the work of Ross Welford and Frank Cottrell-Boyce and I hope ‘Trash or Treasure?’ would appeal to the same readers. Comparison titles would be ‘Small Change for Stuart’ by Lissa Evans meets the TV show ‘Time Team.’

My writing has been long listed for the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award and I have completed several courses in writing for children, including workshops run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Golden Egg Academy, Winchester Writers’ Festival and Words Away.

‘Trash or Treasure’ is inspired by the friendship I had with my own eccentric grandpa while growing up in the faded grandeur of industrial Bradford. After studying Fine Art in Brighton, I worked as an art director in film and TV. I now live in the countryside outside Hastings and work in a contemporary art gallery overlooking the sea.

Many thanks for your time,

Helen Clark Jones


  1. Broken Biscuits

Dame Gilda Goldfink picked her way past a deep trench, stopped next to a pile of rubble-filled earth and looked straight into the camera.

‘Gilda Goldfink’s amazing!’ Freddie scuffed her sneakers on Grandpa’s carpet. ‘She never trips up, or gets mud on her trousers, or anything. Even though she always wears really high heels.’

‘I love this bit.’ Grandpa leaned closer to the TV. ‘It’s my favourite part of the show.’

‘In just three days, we’ve gone from this…’ Gilda held a tiny piece of rusty metal close to the lens. Her perfectly varnished nails sparkled in the sun and the camera pulled back to reveal a team of archeologists standing in a field of rectangular-shaped holes.

‘…to this!’ The camera pulled back further and the field transformed into a virtual shopping street, busy with people in medieval costume. Gilda’s white linen blouse billowed gently, as she stepped through a bustling marketplace and stopped next to a large virtual dog gnawing on a bone.

‘The discovery of a few rusty nails has proved that on these barren fields once stood an important medieval settlement and this land – once considered worthless Trash, is in fact – Treasure! The evidence we’ve uncovered will protect this site for future generations and we can only wonder at what treasures are still hidden for them to discover.’

The closing music started and the picture switched back to the trench-filled field. The archeologists gathered around in eager discussion.

‘That’s all from me and the team at Trash or Treasure?’ Gilda waved at the camera. ‘But don’t forget – the past is out there. If you look hard enough, you will find it. Keep digging!’

The music built to a final flourish and the end credits rolled across the screen.

‘Who knew they could tell so much from an old nail,’ said Freddie. ‘But it’s weird how a whole city can just disappear under a pile of earth without anybody noticing, or even doing anything about it. Imagine if it happened to Cleyford.’

‘It doesn’t really work like that.’ Grandpa took a battered shoebox from the tower of books next to his armchair and whatever was inside it dragged against the cardboard, like pebbles on a beach. ‘People move away, buildings fall down and everything gets buried in dust.’

‘That’s an awful lot of dust,’ said Freddie. ‘To bury a whole city.’

‘Nature takes over,’ said Grandpa. ‘Then someone like Gilda Goldfink comes along and bingo – they’ve found buried treasure and everyone’s a hero! As you know, I used to be something of an archeologist myself.’ He glanced at the photo of Granny on the mantelpiece in its polished silver frame and his voice softened to an almost whisper.

‘We were always going off on little weekends here and there, rummaging about in muddy ditches and digging stuff up in fields.’

Freddie looked at the random bits of rubble and flint lined up on the sideboard. ‘Shame you never found any treasure though.’