A CONFIDENT and assured performance saw a Kidderminster man scoop the title of Worcestershire’s poet laureate despite fierce competition.

Fergus McGonigal, of Comberton Avenue, said the news had “only just started sinking in” after he was named the 2014/15 poet laureate during the launch of the Worcestershire Literary Festival.

The six finalists had to perform a poem on the theme of Prelude to War and one of their own poems which had not been published.

Mr McGonigal said he chose his upbeat poem Drinkers to complement the more sombre piece he had written on World War I.

The 45-year-old, who previously taught at King’s School Worcester, said: “I’m just absolutely delighted.

“The judges went out to deliberate for quite a long time. After about 20 minutes I thought 'Oh blimey' and then they came back and read out the top three.

“They announced third was Suz Winspear, who is a fantastic goth poet. Claire Walker came second – she’s a really intense poet but fun and then it was me, which was great.”

Supporting Mr McGonigal was his wife Gemma and friend Mike Alma while his five sons, Fintan, 22, Conor, 21, Declan, 18, Myles, 15, and Aidan, 13, were also proud.

Mr McGonigal, who is a committee member of the independent group of artists Kidderminster Creatives, will be working closely with the LitFest organisers at events throughout the year.

He said: “I’m excited about helping to promote the Worcestershire Literary Festival. There’s so many great things for people to go along to."

“People should take a look at the programme online and choose a few things to come down to because it is fabulous, a really, really great festival.

“I am also really looking forward to getting involved in the Kidderminster Arts Festival and Mouth and Music events in my home town.”

Maggie Doyle, judge and poet laureate emeritus, called Mr McGonigal a “man of many talents”.

She added: “Worcestershire will never be the same. From decades of teaching drama and English together with years being part of various bands, Fergus decided to abandon all and concentrate on his first love, poetry. He has a disarming charm and modesty, which belies the extremely talented poet, which is always willing to perform.. As poet laureate, he has pledged that no stone shall remain unturned. Worcestershire is in for an exciting year.”