A seven-year old’s moving poetic tribute to his late aunt and a teenager’s short story tackling the difficult subject of mental health were among the winning works in the seventh annual Wicked Young Writer Awards.
The winners were revealed at a special ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the West End home of Wicked, attended by the 115 finalists and their families.
Chosen by the judging panel which was once again headed by How to Train Your Dragon author-illustrator Cressida Cowell, the winners were unveiled during an event which included performances by Wicked cast members and readings of the winning entries.
Championed by Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, this year’s new judges included former Labour MP, Ed Balls; ITV News Arts Editor, Nina Nannar; and the acclaimed performance poet and writer Laura Dockrill.
They joined head judge Cowell and long-standing judges Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust and Michael McCabe, executive producer of Wicked. Anna Bassi, editor of The Week Junior was also a guest judge for the For Good Award for Non-Fiction.
Commenting on the quality of this year’s award winners, Cowell said: “This year, my fellow judges and I read poems and stories addressing really big issues – mental illness, hope in adversity, kindness to strangers and the value of education. There was an incredible range of styles and an array of brilliantly original voices, but they all had this in common – they made us as judges feel something.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust added: “Every year I am moved by the incredible writing of the children and young people who enter the Wicked Young Writer Awards – and this year was no exception. Children tackled incredibly difficult subject matters with originality, creativity and an undeniable sense of hope buoyed by the good that can come out of bad situations.
“Well done to everyone who took part in this year’s awards and congratulations to the worthy winners! We hope that the awards will continue to inspire children and young people to give their thoughts, ideas and passions a voice.”
The full list of winners:
5-7 Category: Winner: Adam Rafael Holmes, seven, from Islington, London for Auntie Helen has gone to heaven (‘This is an honest and heartfelt poem about life and death. Thoughtful, playful and positive about death and a celebration of life’).
Runner-up: Rosa Little, six, from Botley, Oxford for The Four Seasons (A poem about the seasons full of imaginative description and inventive use of language. It also features a unique and heartfelt welcome to refugees’).
8-10 Category: Joint winner: Iona Mandal, 10, from Birmingham for Indigo’s Adventures With Love (A sophisticated and lyrical meditation on the nature of love, both tangible and abstract.)
Joint winner: Miranda Tansley, 10, from Tunbridge Wells for The Suffragettes of Tunbridge Wells (This story breathes life into a true episode from the frontline of the Suffragette movement’).
11-14 Category: Winner: Isla Siggs, 13, from Eastbourne, for A Spot of Bother (A grisly tale! A meticulously detailed history of a truly disgusting spot that simply will not be defeated’).
15-17 Category: Winner: Julia McGrattan, 17, from Hemel Hempstead for Perfectly Unstable (‘A brave, brilliantly executed, short story tackling the difficult subject of mental health. A calculated deception or the beginning of decent into madness. A satisfying twist forces the readers to draw their own conclusions’).
Runner-up: Ilana Pearce, 15, from Leeds for Why Don’t You Just Stop? (‘This poem is an insightful account of living with OCD, expressed in language and rhythm that reflects the real struggle that sufferers face every day’).
18-25 Category: Winner: Claire Joicey, 22, from Cornhill-on-Tweed for The Attic (‘A haunting and atmospheric story told in richly descriptive prose, painting a portrait of sorrow and buried grief’).
‘FOR GOOD’ Category: Winner: Scarlett Rushton, 25, from Chalfont St Peters for Bus 305 (‘A surprising true story of community and the beauty and importance of connection in the digital age).
Launched in 2010, the prestigious awards were created by the producers of the multi award winning musical Wicked in collaboration with the National Literacy Trust recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and develop writing talent in young people.
The finalists will all see their work published in the Wicked Young Writer Awards Anthology, which will be published in association with Young Writers (www.youngwriters.co.uk).
Winners in all categories receive a VIP family experience at the West End production of Wicked, including tickets, an exclusive backstage tour and a meet-and-greet with members of the cast.
* Tickets for Wicked are available HERE.
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