Jul 6, 2020
‘We were stunned by the quality of the entries,’ said Tony Booth, one of the organisers of the Write Stuff writing competition, at a special awards ceremony at the Guille Alles Library.
Nearly 500 students from 17 local schools took part in this year’s Write Stuff competition organised by the Guernsey Literary Festival and one of the few Festival events which took place as the main Festival was cancelled because of the pandemic.
The final judges, Andy Riley, Neil Layton, Onjali Rauf and Huw Lewis-Jones are all successful UK writers and their reports on the entries also mentioned the creative talent of so many young island writers.
The awards were presented by Steve Burt of Write Stuff sponsors Julius Baer. As a book lover and avid reader himself, he said, ‘I am very much in awe of all the young people who have worked so hard to create these stories.’
The subject of this year’s competition was Freedom, particularly apt when the island celebrates 75 years since its liberation from German forces in 1945, and the young writers certainly used the title creatively, with stories covering a huge range of variations on the subject.
The wide range of story subjects, from the personal to the political, the historical to the dystopian, was not lost on illustrator Ginny Morgan, who said it was a real pleasure to create artwork to go with each of the class winnings stories. At the awards ceremony, the winning stories were ready by the young writers themselves or by actor Andy Hislop.
Primary winner Chloe Sebire’s story A Letter that will Live On was in the form of an imagined letter. Her grandmother, 96 and now living in South Africa, had made recordings of her memories of the war. ‘That was what gave me the idea. My grandmother inspired me,’ says Chloe.
A very different story was that of intermediate winner Rebecca Hind, Suffragettes – Freedom for Women. In the story, Rebecca imagined a powerful and life changing event through the character of a suffragette.
‘We were studying the suffragettes at school and I found it all very interesting. I thought it fitted in well with the idea of freedom,’ says Rebecca.
In the senior class, winner Naomi Miller turned to a post-apocalyptic setting for her powerful and beautifully written story A Way to Escape.
‘I wrote this story originally last year and then changed and developed it,’ says Naomi. The story is about what happens when nature takes revenge and people have to live underground to save themselves from heat. Naomi, who says that her reading is more likely to consist of mysteries than the dystopian at the moment, also writes in her story about the importance of the written word. ‘I wanted to bring into the story the power of books,’ she says.
A new class this year, the SEND class for special needs writers, was won by Le Rondin’s Riley Robert, whose exciting story of a motorcycle episode is also a lesson on doing the right thing. Riley, who has more than a passing interest in motorcycles, was able to hear his story My Bike performed to great effect by Andy Hislop.
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. In addition, the three winners in each category were awarded a certificate and had their entries published on the website.
All the winning stories also had an illustration produced of their story by Ginny Morgan, which will serve as a cover on their digital story, and the original artwork was be given to the winners as part of their prize.
The WriteStuff website is now live with the winners’ stories, judges’ comments, recordings of their stories, and the illustrations by Ginny Morgan.
1, Chloe Sebire (Year 5 Hautes Capelles) A Letter that will live on.
2, Ruben Nigbur (Year 3 Sark School): Sid’s Island
3, Lily-Ella O’Brien (Year 6 Melrose, Ladies College) Freedom is in the Clouds
Highly Commended, Abigail Catherine Dowinton (Year 4 Home Schooled) A Dancer’s Freedom
1, Rebecca Hind (Year 9 Grammar School) Suffragettes-Freedom to Women
2, Tim Geraint Ap Sion (Year 9 Elizabeth College) Deluded Vision
3, Violet Graham (Year 9 Grammar School) Waves
Highly Commended, Gabriel Buchanan (Year 7 Elizabeth College) Surf’s Up
1, Naomi Miller (Grammar School) A Way to Escape
2, Ilan Godet (Elizabeth College) Freedom
3, Rachelle Girard (Grammar School) A Gift of Freedom
Highly Commended, Oliver Connolly (Elizabeth College) Am I really Free?
1st Prize: Riley Robert (Le Rondin) My Bike
Highly Commended, William Gallie (Le Rondin) The Scottish Astronaut