Both the number of entries and the schools taking part have increased this year. Many thanks to the teachers whose hard work contributes to the success of this award.
The prize winners’ entries and the final placements are as follows and the judge’s comments are included:
Secondary School Prize Winners – please click on the entry links to read the prize winners’ entries
“The highly commended group was so very good, the winners had to be exceptional. At this level, it’s very hard to quantify and say exactly what it is that made these three stand out; but stand out they did. The key is often memorability, and there being something that made me want to return to these again and again to re-read, not because I was reading for a competition, but purely for the pleasure of reading three very fine pieces of writing.”
First Prize – Fern Sherrard – Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale:
“The first time I read it through I instinctively thought ‘winner’, that this would be the piece against which all the others would be measured. Fern has written from the point of view of a Nazi-hating Jewish journalist suffering a bad bout of flu. That tells you this is going to be a startlingly original take on the theme in the first place. The tension builds and builds. Will he get away with it? Will he escape? I was completely gripped by this story; rooting for the journalist all the way. The extreme danger is palpable. His fever adds to the sense of unreality. He might be recognised at any time. And then he is… Drama, originality, tension, style, memorability – this story has it all. A worthy winner.
Second Prize – Molly Savage, The Lakes School, Windermere: “Many of the best of the stories depicted the horror of the situation as well as Molly does, so when I started reading this one I wasn’t sure if it would rise above the others, but the second half of the story becomes so unbearably poignant, it had to be a prize winner. The writer wants her mother to be there, to tell her everything will be okay. But she is surrounded by armed men who want her dead. “I won’t be okay; this isn’t okay.” The ending of the story is devastating. This is very strong writing in every way.”
Third Prize – Erica Nicksin, Ulverston Victoria High School, Ulverston: “This was the standout piece from all the diary entries. The vividness did it. You’re transported directly into the situation, and most importantly, the writing never gets in the way. You don’t notice the writing; you are simply there. ‘Invisible’ writing is incredibly hard to do, but Erica manages it here. The narrative is everything. And this despite the fact that the piece is about the act of writing a diary, and the consequences of such an action, as becomes clear in the second half. Completely absorbing writing.”
A Special Prize was awarded to Ryan Winder for his piece “Why We Should Not Just Remember the Holocaust but Learn From It”. In the words of the judge, “This piece is one of several from this school where clearly there had been a lot of work done on the Holocaust in its historical context. What raises Ryan’s piece above the others is the way he answers the question, and this conclusion to what has clearly been a substantial project is well-argued and articulate and goes beyond the obvious. It is a highly intelligent and impressive piece of work that easily earned an award”.
“I could only have three winners, but two other pieces of writing came very close indeed, including, I’m pleased to report, one of the poems. Poetry is very difficult to write well. Many of the children who wrote poems in this competition had picked a preferred form, and then fitted what they wanted to say to that form, which is a technique likely to lead to forced rhymes, awkward rhythms, and a choice of words (especially in the case of acrostics) that you probably wouldn’t have used were you not having to fit the task you had given yourself. Writing poetry like that is a useful exercise, so long as you can then look at it and see the flaws. All poetry – and prose – benefits from an understanding, whether academic or instinctive, of both rhythm and rhyme, but slavish adherence to a pattern is never going to produce a good poem.”
Fred Norman – Settlebeck School, Sedbergh
Daniel Wild – Ulverston Victoria High School, Ulverston
Commended “What I wanted to see here was greater originality of thought, and also, stylistically, a considered realisation that over-writing can be a problem. It was good to see a poem make it to this group, as that is the genre most likely to be crammed with over-the-top writing and clichés. There were many deeply poignant short stories in which the writers imagined themselves as victims of the Holocaust, as well as a set of well-argued pieces that took the historical perspective to discuss why it is so important to remember what happened. Writing about such traumatic events is never easy.
Molly Partington, Connor Thornley, Jack Wilson, Thomas Moorhouse, Isla Gordon, Bruce Thwaites – Settlebeck School, Sedbergh
Sophie Evans, Maja Spiewok, Nico Wilson, Anya Wall, Hazel Loverack, Gabriela Afonso – The Lakes School, Windermere
Tom N., Will Puntre, Gracie Daniels, Raven Bicat, Katy Welch, Nico Holmes, Verona Andrews, Ayesha Mook-Charhan, Ayse Garrett – Robertsbridge Community College, East Sussex
CJ Birchall – Youth Council, Barrow
Primary School Prize Winners
“For the purposes of this competition, the winners had to have written something that got me in the guts and made me think and wouldn’t leave me. If one or two of them lacked polish, it didn’t matter. Such things can be learnt in due course. We’re not talking about SATs here; this was the one time you could let your hair down and write what was in your heart and not worry about anything else. The best of the best did precisely that.”
First Prize – Freddy Owen, Milbourne Lodge School, Esher
“Freddy’s letter is possibly the shortest in the whole competition, which just goes to show you don’t have to write reams of fronted adverbials (whatever they might be – I haven’t a clue). What matters is the ability to understand what you have learnt and express it clearly and in such a way that the reader steps back and goes, ‘Wow!’ That’s what happened to me when I first read this piece. It may be written in the form of a letter, but it is pure poetry. The paragraph that begins, ‘I will take you out to the park…’ is almost unbearably poignant. This piece is exceptional, stylish and beautiful, and makes me want to read more of Freddy’s writing. It is a very worthy winner of the first prize.”
Second Prize – Olivia Tomazeska – Rylands Primary School, Lancaster
“Olivia may not realise it, but she has produced a beautiful piece of stream of consciousness writing. It’s overflowing with love for her birthplace – Poland – and gratitude for the welcome and kindness she has found at her school in England. Her writing jumps about crazily, but is all the more effective for that, because the cumulative effect is incredibly strong. It’s punctuated with asides about the death of her grandma and a list of her pets and then it’s straight back to thinking about starvation, and then kindness, love, more kindness. A terrific piece of writing that feels like it’s accidentally brilliant, rather than carefully worked out and constructed, but it’s all the stronger as a result.”
Third Prize – Charlie Joseph Pointon – Heron Hill Primary School, Kendal
“Charlie’s letter stood out because of the way he dealt with the problem of starvation, bringing in personal family experiences that showed great understanding and compassion. He went on to give a surprisingly moving account of the death of a hedgehog and the subsequent destruction of its grave. There were depths to his analogies that made this a very thought-provoking piece and took it much further than I expected.”
“I could only have three winners, but three other pieces of writing came so very close I felt they deserved an extra mention.
Ben – Carden Primary School, Brighton, Sussex
Daniel Hannon – St Mary’s Catholic School, Morecambe
Lacy Camron – Rylands School, Lancaster
” The pieces that made it to the ‘Commended’ sections and above showed integrity and understanding of Alfred’s story. Many were written in the form of letters where the children had been asked to give examples of when someone had been kind to them. I liked that a few quietly rebelled against giving too much emphasis to their own experience. This competition is not and never has been about the neatest handwriting or the best spelling, so I ignored those elements. It is about understanding the issues and producing an original piece of writing with a personal slant could only have been written by that one particular child. “
Ella, Morgan Cozens, Lucas – Rylands School, Lancaster
Jasmine Williamson, Lewis Knowles, Lola Corbett – Ghyllside Primary School, Kendal
Samuel Bell, Freya Clements, Sophie Ackred, Sophie Biddulph – Dane Ghyll Primary School, Barrow
Matthew – Dean Gibson School, Kendal
Kylian M. – Milbourne Lodge School, Esher, Surrey
Amy Roberts – Carden Primary School, Brighton, Sussex
Jacob Birch – Heron Hill Primary School, Kendal
Bartek – St. Cuthberts Primary School, Windermere