The winners of the sixth annual Wicked Young Writer Awards were revealed at a special ceremony at London’s Apollo Theatre today (Friday).
In an event hosted by Gaby Roslin with prizes presented by head judge How to Train Your Dragon author-illustrator Cressida Cowell, more than 100 finalists and their families gathered to discover who had claimed the top spots in each of the six categories.
The finalists were chosen from thousands of entries, and the shortlisted contenders were invited to London for a special ceremony which also featured Wicked cast members performing songs from the show and reading from the winning entries.
Commenting on the winners, Cowell said: “This year, my fellow judges and I read poems and stories that are poignant, amusing and captivating. They addressed really big issues: war, homelessness, prejudice, and abuse. There was an incredible range of styles and an array of brilliantly original voices, but they all had this in common: they made us judges feel something.
“As an author, one of the main messages I want to get across to the young people in this country is that a career in writing or the arts is an option open to them. Did you know that last year the creative industries made £10 million an hour for the UK economy? These young writers whether finalists or winners need to carry on writing.”
Now in their sixth year the awards, which 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.
As in previous years the awards covered five different age categories covering young people aged five to 25 years of age. This year’s awards marked the launch of a new category, the For Good Award for Non-Fiction, encouraging 15-25 year olds to write essays or articles that recognise the positive impact that people can have on each other, their communities and the world in general. The new category celebrates the Wicked: For Good programme, which supports the charitable causes at the heart of the stage musical.
The winners are:
5-7 category: joint winners – Aoife Stewart, 6, from Ealing, London for ‘Problems in Potland’; George McGivern, 6, from Kent for ‘The King Who Hated Christmas’; Isla Whitford, 6, from Kent for ‘William and the Dog Catcher’.
8-10 category: joint winners – Angelina Thakrar, 8, from Lewes for ‘The Day of the Dead’; Matilda Collins, 11, from Eastbourne for ‘Night Step’.
11-14 category: joint winners – Eilidh Laurie, 12, from Stirling, Scotland for ‘As White as Snow’; Harry Watson, 14, from Enfield, London for ‘Prison Life: A Teenage Convict’s Perspective’.
15-17 category: joint winners – Amber Marino, 15, from Sutton, Surrey for ‘The Journalist’; Charlotte Morgan, 16, from Bridport, Dorset for ‘Desire of the Soul’.
18-25 category: winner – Fabiana Conte Luque, 25, from London for ‘Unforgettable Sounds’.
For Good Category: joint winners – Isabelle Emma Stokes, 21, from Brighton; Sophie Arthur, 19, from Cheltenham.
Wicked’s executive producer Michael McCabe commented: “Created in 2010, with the passionate support of Michael Morpurgo and our Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, these Young Writer Awards were designed to promote literacy in the UK and encourage young people to explore their creativity.
“Six years later, the many thousands of entries received annually continue to inspire and amaze us all. We remain exceptionally proud that Wicked has provided the platform from which the extraordinary gifts of so many young people have been discovered and celebrated.”
Championed by the awards’ patron, The Duchess of Cornwall, and spearheaded by author Michael Morpurgo, the judges this year included Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust; award-winning poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, and Henry Smith, director of Lend Me Your Literacy.
The awards raise money for the National Literacy Trust, which campaigns to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy.