Recently I had the honour of judging the annual children’s story competition for the ‘Leukaemia Cancer Society’. It was an absolute pleasure to play a part in this event, but the highlight had to be travelling to London to meet all the shortlisted children and to present the awards.
In fact, I was so excited about the ceremony, I couldn’t sleep the night before and I was up at 5am!
Here are all the reasons why;
- Androulla and I had had several months of emails back and forth, so it was lovely to meet and chat with her and Pat over lunch. I heard from them both more about the significant contributions the charity makes; funding research, supporting families and spreading awareness.
- This, the competition’s eighth year, saw a whopping 600 entries! As a teacher myself, I couldn’t wait to meet and thank the teachers and teaching staff who motivated and encouraged their children to submit their stories.
- And of course, I wanted to shake the hands of all the shortlisted writers! The theme of the competition was ‘courage,’ but the entries varied enormously. Some were funny, some were scary, others sad. A large number appeared to be written from personal experience, which is courageous in itself. All the children deserved to be congratulated and I was so glad to be able to do that face to face.
- And finally, I wanted to say a few words to the participants about resilience. As a runner up in a writing competition in 2013, I wanted to impress that it isn’t necessarily all about winning. Developing resilience and picking yourself up after a knock back, is essential when it comes to achieving your goal, whatever your dream.
The winners and runners up in each category were:
GIRLS 7-9 yrs
Runner up: Evelyn Ivanova, ‘The inspiration boy’
Winner: Mariam Zaki, ‘Face your Fear’
This was a tough category but Mariam’s writing was gripping and she took us on a real journey. The story was full of ups and downs and I was with, and rooting for, the main character all the way.
GIRLS 10-12 yrs
Runner up: Amina Hassan, ‘Ryan’s Guardian’
Winner: Megan Hamilton, ‘New Beginnings’
We loved this entry. The voice was engaging and consistent throughout. It was full of emotion and came full circle with a satisfying ending.
GIRLS 13-15 yrs
Runner up: Helena Stylianou, ‘He saved me’
Winner: Melisa Alpdogan, ‘Senses’
I could have picked several winners in this category. But I was really drawn to the writing in Melisa’s entry. It appealed to my love of poetry and lyrical language. A very clever twist that I found myself thinking about days later.
BOYS 10-12 yrs
Runner up: Nyle Lwen-Buckner ‘2183’
Winner: Morgan Donnelly, ‘Head on’.
We thought this was sensitively written and full of emotion. The storyline, about helping a sick friend, was powerful and totally believable.
BOYS 13-15 yrs
Runner up: Firat Eedur, ‘Anonymous’
Winner: Samir Taleb, ‘For the People’
This was succinct and powerful. It was well plotted and I really cared for the characters. It also tackled the dangers we sometimes face in today’s society head on.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it was incredibly tough choosing an overall winner, but with the help of my mini judges who listened to all the stories aloud, we finally decided on:
Boys 7-9: James Philipou, ‘The Nightmare at Wizardsville’.
The idea was original idea and the ending was fab, as was the message that no-one can take away your bravery.
The worthy runner up in this category was Sam Kemp with ‘Julius, The Youngest Roman Emperor.’
Honestly, all the stories showed so much enthusiasm and talent. It was a privilege to read them.
Watch out adult writers, the next generation are hot on our heels!