A CUMBRIAN songwriter has made it to the semi-finals of the UK Songwriting Contest with not just one but two Christmas songs - and a victory could see a famous crooner record his tracks.

The contest is a prestigious international event formed by the BRIT Trust from the annual BRIT Awards.

Al Hayward’s ‘Save Me A Place’ and ‘My Magic Christmas Tree’ were both rated with a score of five stars, showing 'a strong understanding of songwriting', and an 'above average level of songwriting ability and skill' – gaining both tracks an instant place in the semi-finals.

Save Me A Place, written by Al with his brother Adrian Hayward, expresses the feelings of someone who’s been away for too many Christmases.

Travelling home for the first time in years, the singer reminisces about all he’s missed and what he is most looking forward to.

After many years of working in the Middle East, in a country where Christmas is not even celebrated at all, Al was longing to be home for the festive season with family and friends – and was inspired to express it in song.

“I was working as a teacher in the Middle East in a country where Christmas is a normal workday,” said Al.

“I was just missing my family and Christmas as a whole so decided to write the song.”

Al, from Penrith, has been an English teacher and had written some poetry before but had never written songs.

“I’d had ideas for songs in the past but had never really considered it before,” said Al.

“However, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I thought I’d give it a go and found that it just all started to flow.”

If Al’s songs were to get through to the final and win the competition they would be sent through to Al’s chosen artist, Christmas favourite Michael Bublé, who can then decide if he would like to record the song for next Christmas.