Grace Kitto - Women's Memoir Competition 2014 winner

Grace Kitto, Cadover Bridge Syndrome

Last August I entered my unfinished book, The Cadover Bridge Syndrome (aka The Fat Controller) for the Mslexia Memoir Award. It was longlisted (which forced me to finish it), short listed (very exciting) and finally I heard that I’d won (stratospheric!). 

Editor Debbie Taylor rang one Friday afternoon to give me the good news and I almost cried, and then shook for about half an hour. She’d sworn me to secrecy too so I was fizzing with excitement but unable to share – torture.

One thing that particularly took me aback was that my book won despite the subject matter, which frankly I feared would count it out. You see, it’s about weight loss. Slow, painstaking, grapple-with-yourself-through-copious-setbacks, diabetes-avoiding, heart-protecting, mind-altering weight loss.

I’ve always written for pleasure but my day job as a factual television producer is absorbing and time-consuming and doesn’t leave much room for another creative outlet. I started writing this almost by accident. I got on the scales one day and saw that I had put on yet another stone.  Tears plopped on to my feet. I was a serial dieter but nevertheless had spent the last 30 years gradually gaining seven stone.

I knew I had to think differently about the whole subject. So many conflicting thoughts whirled round my head that I began to write them down to work them out. The opening chapters still make my scalp tingle because they are full of that uncertainty. I didn’t know where this journey would lead me. Within months I realized that a complete change of attitude was working and I began to write for other people as well as myself.

I wrote the book I wanted to read but couldn’t find. I’m so grateful to Mslexia for giving me the impetus and inspiration to finish it.

Grace Kitto has worked for Denham Productions (currently filming with Rick Stein) for ten years and is now its MD. Before that she was Press Officer for Bristol Arts Centre/Watershed, then a youth worker specialising in media training, which led to a postgraduate degree in Film and Television. She has worked in TV ever since, mainly as a producer/director. Cadover Bridge Syndrome is her first book.

What did the judges say?

‘Refreshing to read an intelligent person grappling with this issue. It’s gripping, likeable, feminist – with a fantastic prose style’
Julie Myerson

‘It’s so brave – and so easy to read’
Jane Martinson

‘An authentic voice narrating an intense journey with great self-awareness, incorporating latest research and feminist arguments’
Jenny Brown

Congratulations to the other finalists and shortlisted writers


  • Clare Best, The papermaker
  • Nell Stevens, Bleaker house

Also on the shortlist

  • Elizabeth Bullen, Letters to a prisoner
  • Vera Graaf, Virgin territories
  • Rosie Wilby, How (not) to make it in Britpop
  • Lynn Hall, Caged eyes
  • Alison White, You and I
  • Rosie Jackson, Sacred cow
  • Ruth Phillips, Cherries from Chavet’s orchard
  • Georgina Deverell, I am a mole
  • Becky Hogge, Barefoot in cyberspace
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