Raworths Young Writers Competition Winners Revealed

Two Harrogate pupils from St Aidan’s Church of England High School are the winners of the nationwide Raworths Young Writers Competition.

Using the theme, ‘Every Object Has a Story’, the competition was launched by Harrogate International Festivals and Raworths Solicitors (title sponsors of the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival) in partnership with Pobble - the global literacy initiative for sharing children’s writing.

Over 400 entries were received. Author Damian Kelleher, and previous editor of the Daily Telegraph’s Young Telegraph supplement, chose the final winners from the two shortlists of ten.

Jessica Barry, aged 12 (Year 7), won the Young Category open to Year 4-7, with her short story, The Person I Thought I Was. Harry Fawcett, aged 14 (Year 9), won the Older Category open to Year 8-10) for The Cricket Ball.

Judge Damian said Jessica’s story featuring a war veteran suffering from Dementia was ‘a sad, reflective story with some unforgettable imagery, and a clever twist at the end.’

He praised Harry’s piece for being ‘a well-constructed and original idea’. Damian added: “It’s about a talented young cricketer who takes to the skies in a Lancaster bomber, and carries the cricket ball his grandfather gave him as a child as his lucky mascot. Harry has written a taut and imaginative tale with strong characterisation. At the end, he brings it bang up to date with a spine-tingling addendum relating the rediscovery of Joe’s lucky ball some 60 years later.”

The competition was promoted across North Yorkshire libraries and pupils had access to a Storybox of objects displayed at Harrogate Library, such as a teddy bear, train ticket, and mobile phone to inspire their entries. 300 pupils from schools from across the District also attended creative workshops and author talks at the Royal Hall, which launched the competition in July.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals, Head of the Family Law unit, Carmelita Arden from Raworths solicitors, and Lee Talbot, one of Pobble’s teachers, presented the winners’ certificates at a presentation at St Aidan’s this Friday (6 Nov) .

Carmelita said: “The team at Raworths Family Law is delighted to have been involved in the sponsorship of Raworths Young Writers in conjunction with Harrogate International Festivals. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and it was difficult to choose winners from such a high standard of entry. All the students who entered deserve high praise for their efforts and hopefully will continue to develop their creative writing talent in the future.”

The two winners received £50 book vouchers and a giant bundle of books for their school library donated by Orion Children’s Books and Random House Children’s Publishers.

Both children were invited to record their story with Stray FM’s Alex Cann to air on the Harrogate International Festivals Radio Show.

Simon Blower, co-founder of Pobble and a former Harrogate teacher, said: “Writing is crucial for all ages, not just in terms of developing literacy, but helps young people express themselves, and boosts confidence. This is what Pobble is all about – giving children a platform to share their fantastic writing engages them, fires their imaginations and turns them into keen writers.”

Sharon Canavar, CEO at Harrogate International Festivals, said: “Harrogate has an incredible reputation as a destination for book lovers with our annual festivals and Big Read events. It’s important to us that we use our platform to engage and inspire young people in the district as part of our outreach and educational work in the community to help raise literacy levels and inspire future generations. They could one day be the stars of our future festivals.”

The winning school St Aidan’s will also receive exclusive author visits later this month from Kate Pankhurst, author of the Mariella Mystery series featuring the 9-year-old detective, and the Carnegie longlisted Phil Earle, author of Demolition Dad, which has been dubbed as ‘Danny the Champion of the World in Spandex’.

Antonia Parris, English teacher at St Aidan’s, said: “As St Aidan’s prioritises literacy across the whole curriculum, we were keen to involve as many pupils as possible in this fantastic competition, working with them during English lessons to create beautifully-crafted and individual pieces of writing. As well as the winning entries, we were able to submit around 60 high-quality stories from pupils of all ages.

“I am delighted for Jessica and Harry, who demonstrated hard work and imagination to achieve their well-deserved success.”

Photo captions: photo credit: Chris Hall
Line up shot: l-r –Carmelita Ardren, Raworths, Gemma Rowland, Harrogate International Festivals, Anna Whiteley, Pobble, Jessica Barry – St Aidan’s competition winner, Harry Fawcett – St Aidans competition winner, Alex Cann, Stray FM, Sharon Canavar, Harrogate International Festivals, Louise Robinson, Pobble

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