May 08, 2024

Guernsey Literary Festival Record entry for WriteStuff ‘party’

There was a record number of more than 1,018 entries in this year’s WriteStuff writing competition for the Bailiwick’s young writers, the first time that the competition has topped the 1,000 mark.

They came from no fewer than 21 schools, including from Sark, Alderney and Herm, and attracted home schooled entrants as well.

The entries were judged blind by top UK and international children’s book authors Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Sam Copeland, Frances Hardinge and Huw Lewis-Jones, all of whom travelled to the island during the Guernsey Literary Festival for a special presentation event at Les Cotils and to take part in the Festival.

The popular competition, organised by the Guernsey Literary Festival, was celebrating its 10th birthday in 2024 – and the subject of this year’s 300-word story challenge was The Party. The rest was up to the writer, and although the title sounded joyous, many of the young writers used their imaginations to give their stories a twist which was anything but joyous!

There are four classes, Primary (years 3-6), Intermediate (years 7-9) and Senior (years 10+), and a class for writers with special educational needs. The competition is sponsored by Julius Baer and promoted by Guernsey Literary Festival partners including YouAndUs, the Guille-Allès Library, Guernsey Arts, Island Families and Aurigny.

Ruby Day was the winner of the Primary Class, and judge Rashmi Sirdeshpande said that her story, Animal Extravaganza, was ‘a joy to read. It was fun and imaginative with a perfectly paced and well contained plot (something that is very hard to do!). On top of that, it has a gorgeous ending that will make pet owning readers look a bit more closely at their own little animal friends.’

The idea for the story, Ruby said, was her pet rabbit, ‘because she’s so naughty’. Ruby was really excited when the fact that she had won was read out in school assembly.

Intermediate winner was Zara de Sausmarez and judge Sam Copeland said of her story The Wedding: ‘Brilliantly written, extremely gruesome and with a great twist at the end. What more could you ask for?’

‘I wanted to tell a story with a twist at the end,’ said Zara. Like many good stories, ‘I started at the end and worked backwards.’

Herbie Stow took the first prize in the Senior Class with In Loving Memory. Judge Frances Hardinge praised it as ‘A gentle story, but moving and well-written with a real emotional warmth. The final revelation is very touching, and feels exactly right. I decided to give first prize to this story about love and affection that can outlast anything, even life itself.’

‘I thought this would be a moving idea,’ said Herbie. ‘a profound message, how love and friendship can carry on even when people are no longer with us.’

First in the SEND primary class was Xavier Sarre, whose story The Going Away was chosen by Huw Lewis-Jones.

‘An important subject, told with sensitivity and care. We all love dogs don’t we, but it’s just so sad when they get older. But what a nice idea to have a party to celebrate a life. Warm descriptive narrative and gentle action, then a dramatic moment, and a happy resolution! I’m sure Hugo is looking down from doggy heaven and very happy with that tale,’ said Huw.

Xavier’s story was partly inspired by a much-loved family dog, a chihuahua called Hugo ‘with his own personality’.

Huw also chose the senior winner in this section, Party With a Bang, written by Riley Corbin.

‘Loud and lively, with a dose of danger…and some local history too! I know the feeling, things can get a bit noisy sometimes. Evocative and yet simply told, I could really feel I was there on the beach too…thank goodness they went to get help… And fireworks, what a good way to finish. Well done PC Dwane from the Bomb Squad…and well done you.’

Riley said, ‘I came up with the idea that I’d like local history in it, and I set it at L’Islet, and then I did a few tweaks. I also wanted to include Dwayne Johnson so my policeman is PC Dwane.’

As Head of Julius Baer Guernsey, a proud sponsor of the WriteStuff Competition for multiple years, Alexandra McInnes said: "It's always fantastic to be involved in the WriteStuff competition, and bear witness to such a display of creativity from the island's younger generation. The winning entries are full of imagination, and are thought-provoking and fun to read."

There was a cash prize of £50 and a trophy for the winner in each category, with £25 cash prizes for second and third places. There was also a £50 cash prize and a certificate for both primary and secondary winners of the Special Educational Needs (SEND) class.

Aurigny generously provided two return flights from Guernsey to London Gatwick for the 1st prize winner in each of the five categories.

All first, second and third place winners also received a signed book and an original illustration by local illustrator Sheena Le Messurier, who was commissioned to produce bespoke illustrations of the winning stories.

The winning stories and illustrations will be displayed at the Guille-Allès Library and local schools.

Each highly commended winner received a £10 book token and a certificate as well as having their story published on the WriteStuff website


Primary (Judged by Rashmi Sirdeshpande):

1, Ruby Day (Year 4, Ladies College, Melrose), Animal Extravaganza!.

2, Pearl Tarry (Year 6, La Houguette), The Party Heist.

3, Alexander Hieghton-Jackson (Year 3, Blanchelande), Fancy Diamond Party.

Highly Commended:

Erin Waldron (Notre Dame), The Magic Party; Ciaran Tansell (Castel School), The Party at Tutenkhamun’s Pyramid; Isla Bretel (Vale School), Party Animals on the Savanna; Thomas Guthrie (Elizabeth College, Beechwood), The Penguin Party Train; Kiara Topley (Notre Dame), The Party That Changed Me.

Intermediate (Judged by Sam Copeland)

1, Zara de Sausmarez (Year 7, Les Beaucamps High), The Wedding.

Joint 2, Isabelle Guest (Year 9 Ladies College), The Party.

Joint 2, Imogen Foulds (Year 9, Ladies College), The Masked Assassin.

Highly commended:

Noah Van der Linden (St Sampson’s High), Peter’s Party; Emily Crabtree (Ladies College), The Party to Remember; Noah Nicolle (Elizabeth College), The War Party; Edward Field (Elizabeth College), War and Paintballs.

Senior (Judged by Frances Hardinge):

1, Herbie Stow (Year 10+, Elizabeth College), In Loving Memory.

2. Seb Saad (Year 10+, Elizabeth College), Long Live the King.

3, Edward Robinson (Year 10+, Elizabeth College), A Summer Evening in Paradise.

Highly Commended:

Jake Van der Linden (St Sampson’s High), Horror; Jake Taylor (Elizabeth College), Never Say No to a God, and Waltzing Away; Oliver Guest (Elizabeth College) The Heist; Edward Robinson (Elizabeth College) Scandals at Downing Street.

Special Educational Needs (SEND) (Judged by Huw Lewis-Jones)

Primary, First Prize: Xavier Sarre (Year 6, Le Rondin), The Going Away Party.

Secondary, First Prize: Riley Corbin (Year 7, Les Voies), Party With a Bang.

Highly Commended:

Harry Le Page (Le Rondin), The Cupcake Party; Riley Guilbert (Les Voies), The Murder Party; Jett Burtenshaw (Le Murier), The Dog Party; William Gallie (Le Murier), Aliens v, Humans Football Party.