Cheltenham Festivals

VIDEO: Schools' Creative Writing Competition Winner read by Michael Morpurgo

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As part of The Big Read 2014 in association with Vintage Classics, we challenged secondary school pupils to produce a creative piece of writing based on this year’s Big Read title – Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

Pupils were asked to use the title of the opening chapter of Cider with Rosie, ‘First Light,’ as the title and inspiration for their own piece of creative writing in form of a poem or short story.

The competition was judged by Jane Bailey, author and Chair of The Big Read book groups; Angela France, poet and Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire and Ali Mawle, Director of Education at Cheltenham Festivals.

It was an absolute pleasure to see so much talent in young people who clearly enjoy language. It was interesting to see them inhabiting so many different writerly voices. We will be watching out for them as fully fledged writers in the future. We enjoyed reading every entry and had such a difficult job (judging)

Ali Mawle, Director of Education at Cheltenham Festivals

Following a vibrant discussion the judges agreed on the following:

1st place

Sarah Short, Thomas Keble School, age 14
Not only did she manage to tell a story in an economical number of words, her pacing was superb. It was moving without being sentimental and kept you guessing until the very last line. It made us cry. The tenderness and skill of her writing was extraordinary for her age.

Click on the video above to see Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo reading Sarah’s story.

2nd place

Emma Bryan, Cheltenham Ladies College, age 17
She shows remarkable control and excellent use of concrete detail and imagery. It is a pleasure to see a young poet take something so slowly without over writing.

Click the download link to read Emma’s poem

3rd place

Katie Waters, Cheltenham Bournside School, age 15
Katie sustains a beautiful extended metaphor throughout with powerful use of language. She takes us from the enormity of a storm down to the intimacy of a home.

Click the download link to read Katie’s story

Highly commended (in no particular order):

Kevin Dissanayake, St Peter’s High School, age 14
We loved the quirkiness of the story and the unexpected ending which demanded something of the reader.

Gabrielle Ellis, Archway School, age 13
Gabrielle took an interesting angle on a local writer in his own environment. It was a stunning piece of writing for her age.

Isaac Heywood, Cheltenham Bournside School, age 17
This was really imaginative. The patterning of the plot, characterisation and unusual setting made this stand out.

Jade Hodgson, Cleeve School, age 15
This was an imaginative use of dramatic monologue with sustained references to Cider with Rosie.

Sam Judd, Thomas Keble School, age 14
Sam has clearly researched a situation and put himself imaginatively into it. It is fully realised with a striking use of the second person.

Talia Ribuffo, Archway School, age 12
This was short but every word counted, with excellent use of specific concrete detail. Talia shows great sophistication for her age.

Participating Schools:

Archway School, Stroud
Cheltenham Bournside
Chipping Campden School
Cirencester Kingshill School
Cheltenham Ladies’ College
Cleeve School
Edgbaston High School
Maidenhill School
Pittville School
Severn Vale School
St Peter’s High School
Stroud High School
Thomas Keble School

Cheltenham Festivals would like to thank Angela France and Jane Bailey for being such fantastic judges and to Vintage Books for their support.