Manx word wizard Hazel Drury of Ramsey will be defending her title at an Irish Festival based on the hit Channel 4 TV show Countdown next month.

Despite being diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Hazel learned how to read, spell and do her tables by watching Countdown. That has spurred her on to become one of the best word gamers in the island.

In 2015 she won four nights on the Channel 4 show and was only knocked off on the fifth night in a neck-and-neck decider in the Countdown Conundrum.

Now, Hazel will return to Sligo in Ireland on April 6 to defend her title at the ‘Co:Mon 2024’ festival and will be cheered on by members of Manx Scrabble who will be following her progress online at the Prospect Hotel from 3.30pm.

Players who have appeared on Countdown must wait 10 years before they may apply to compete a second time. That is now only 18 months away and Hazel is honing her skills through every means at her disposal, including regular games at Manx Scrabble meetings.

‘Hazel is an inspiration to us all’, Manx Scrabble founder Gilly Street said.

‘She only learnt to play Scrabble last year and has to adjust between the two different official dictionaries used by Scrabble and Countdown.

‘It’s challenging enough learning allowable words, having to unlearn words when switching games requires even greater skill.’

Hazel is already playing tough games with some of the best Scrabble players on the island, including Kathryn Keeble, who won the best novice award at the Inaugural International Manx Scrabble Championship at the Sefton Hotel in 2024.

Gilly added: ‘Hazel has what it takes to go far in the international Scrabble world. Behind the quiet, friendly, unassuming smile, there is a formidable and determined player.’

The Manx Scrabble Club meets at the friendly Prospect Hotel, Prospect Hill, Douglas on the first, third and fifth Saturdays of each month from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

Manx Scrabble welcomes people at all levels and most mental and physical abilities. Email Gilly at: [email protected] for more information.

Anyone wanting to join in supporting Hazel at the Sligo Festival on April 6 can come to the hotel from 3.30pm and cheer her on.