The J.M. Barrie Awards

Every year Action for Children's Arts presents awards in three categories:

  • The J.M.Barrie Award is given annually to a children's arts practitioner or organisation in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in delighting children. In the view of ACA Trustees, their work will stand the test of time.

  • The Outstanding Contribution Award is presented to an individual person or organisation, acknowledging their current contribution to children’s arts.

  • ACA Members’ Awards are a way of recognising the work of individuals and organisations whose names may not hit the headlines. They are very much the heroes and heroines of children’s arts.


The 2018 JM Barrie Award was presented to Stuart and Kadie Kanneh-Mason, in recognition of all parents who dedicate themselves to their children's musical upbringing. The Outstanding Contribution Award was given to Sticky Fingers Arts, and Members' Awards went to Caroline Moore and Susie Hall from GOSH Arts; and conductor Helen Smee.


The 2017 JM Barrie Award was presented to ACA President, and chairman of twenty years David Wood OBE. The ceremony was held at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 9 November 2017 and we were delighted to receive a warm welcome from Sir Cameron Mackintosh himself.

The Outstanding Contribution Award was given to Liz Kitchen, a composer known for her work on much-loved theme tunes such as the Tweenies, Show Me Show Me, Tikkabilla and Playdays. She also creates music for Chickenshed theatre company.

Members' Awards were given to:


The JM Barrie Award was awarded to Michael Morpurgo OBE. One of our greatest storytellers, he has thrilled and delighted huge numbers of young readers since becoming a children’s author in the early 1970s. The event was hosted by the BBC and held in the Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House on 10th November 2016.

The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Linda McClelland MBE. Linda is a former art teacher who has worked for the National Galleries of Scotland since 2004. In her role as a Playfair Education Officer, she works not only with schools but also with underprivileged groups, minorities and training artists – offering guidance before they go out to deliver community workshops.

The Members' Awards were presented to:

  • Julian Butler, Composer
  • Nick Graham, Stage Manager at Polka Theatre
  • Tom Jelley, Software Developer at Widgit, who helped develop a range of graphic symbol resources to help young children with learning disabilities understand and enjoy performances of music, ballet and pantomime.
  • Annemarie Macdonald, co-director of Theatre Alibi
  • Miao Miao Yu, Founder of Bach to Baby


The JM Barrie was awarded to the much-loved children’s author, Dame Jacqueline Wilson for a lifetime of unforgettable writing for children. The event was hosted by the BBC at the DeVere West One, Portland Place on the 5th of November 2015. Professor Sir Ken Robinson won the Outstanding Contribution Award.

Members' Awards were given to:

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of TIE, Trustees Awards went to internationally acclaimed playwrights,

  • Mike Kenny
  • Charles Way


The JM Barrie was awarded to Bernard Cribbins OBE, in recognition of the decades of delight he has bestowed on generations of children through his wonderful TV, theatre and film work. The event was hosted by the BBC and held in the Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House on 13 November 2014. Northern Ballet won the Oustanding Contribution Award.

Members' Awards were presented to:





The JM Barrie Award was presented to Lynne Reid Banks, author of more than forty books for children and a tireless champion of children's arts for many years.

Lyn Gardner, theatre critic, won the first Outstanding Contribution Award.

The Members' Awards were presented to:

  • DARYL BEETON, Artistic Director of Kazzum
  • JO BELLOLI, Early Years Theatre Specialist
  • LOUISE BETTS, Bath Festivals and 5x5x5=creativity
  • PEPE HART, Headteacher
  • SHARON SNAYLAM, Head of Department Leeds secondary school
  • IVAN STOTT, AD Hiccup Theatre


The JM Barrie was awarded to Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE former presenter of Playschool, author, actress, Chancellor of Exeter University, supporter of children's charities and Life Peer in the House of Lords.

The Members' Award winners were:

  • Ellen Bianchini MBE, Founder of The Spark children’s arts festival
  • Toni Carter, Headteacher
  • Kate Cross, Director, the egg
  • Tara Hartley, Director, Musical Tree House
  • Maria Hayes, Artist
  • Claire Lawson, Teacher
  • Anthony Pedley, Actor
  • Peter Sanders, Headteacher
  • Tanny Stobart, Director, Play Torbay
  • Susan Stranks, Campaigner for children’s radio
  • David Turvey, Headteacher

Click here to watch the awards ceremony at BAFTA on 20 October 2012.


The JM Barrie was awarded to Lyndie Wright puppet-maker and co-founder of the Little Angel Puppet Theatre.

Members' Awards were presented to:

  • Sue East, Headteacher, St Andrew’s CE Primary School, Bath
  • Chris Elwell, Half Moon Theatre
  • Suzie Lowe and Alexandra Hingst
  • Stewart and Mary McGill, Playbox Theatre
  • Di Murray
  • Roman Stefanski
  • Will Tuckett


We presented the JM Barrie Award to Shirley Hughes author and illustrator of numerous children's books, from Dorothy Edward's My Naughty Little Sister to her own Dogger and Alfie. "The picture book," she says, "is such a wonderful form and so much hasn't been done with it yet."

The first Members' Awards were presented to:

  • Allie Spencer, Nottingham Playhouse
  • Big Brum Theatre in Education, Birmingham
  • Chris Thompson, The Place
  • Laura Jane Ogilvy, London Children’s Ballet
  • Penny Hay, 5x5x5=creativity
  • Stephen Midlane, Polka Theatre.

Among the guests at the presentation were ACA Patrons Peter Duncan, Lynne Reid Banks, Philip Pullman CBE and Dame Jacqueline Wilson.


The JM Barrie Award was awarded to Roger McGough poet, performer and promoter of poetry for all ages. His career spans four decades, from the Liverpool Poets and The Scaffold to Poetry Please and the award of a CBE in 2004. The Great Smile Robbery (1982) was the first of many books to make him one of the country's most popular writers of poetry for children.


Awarded to Quentin Blake illustrator and author of numerous books for children. His own books, such as Mr Magnolia, Mrs Armitage on Wheels and Clown, along with his illustrations of Roald Dahl's books for children, have made his style instantly recognisable. (He designed the ACA logo too!)

From 2005-2006, the award was known as the ACA Peter Pan Award.


Awarded to Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, the creators of many classic animation children’s television series including Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, The Clangers, Noggin the Nog and Pogles Wood.


Awarded to Judith Kerr, author and illustrator of numerous books for children, including The Tiger Who Came to Tea, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Mog.


The first ACA Peter Pan Award went to Dick King-Smith (1922-2011), best known perhaps for The Sheep-Pig, the book that was filmed as Babe. He was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours.