A record number of 883 entries from 26 schools meant that this year’s WriteStuff writing competition was the biggest ever.
The competition, open to pupils in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, is part of the annual Guernsey Literary Festival and the winners were awarded their prizes and had their stories read at an event at Les Cotils in this year’s Festival.
This year’s Primary winner was Sybil Henderson from Notre Dame, the Intermediate winner was Sienna Wallen of Ladies College and the Senior winner was Jake Taylor of Elizabeth College. Winners in the SEND category were Jake Donaldson and Dylan Robilliard.
Young writers in the Bailiwick were given the chance to use their imaginations to write a 300-word story inspired by their love for nature.
The judges for the competition were acclaimed writers, M G Leonard, Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, Sita Brahmachari and Huw Lewis-Jones, all of whom came to the island to take part in the Festival and present the WriteStuff awards. The competition was once again sponsored by Julius Baer, whose Jean-Luc Le Tocq was at the presentation.
Also at the presentation were Education minister Andrea Dudley-Owen, who referred to the Festival as a ‘significant annual event’ and paid tribute to the creativity and imagination shown by the children. Tribute was also paid to the island’s teachers who had supported the competition.
Festival Honorary Chairman Terry Waite also spoke about the importance of encouraging young people’s imaginations. It was important for the young to tell their stories, and not live their lives ‘with their song still in them’.
The challenge for young writers was to produce a 300-word story which inspired and reconnected the reader with love for Nature. Pieces were judged on creativity, clarity, style and accuracy of language as well as an explicit link to Nature. The aim of the WriteStuff Competition is to develop writing skills and further digital literacy.
There are four classes, Primary (years 3-6), Intermediate (years 7-9) and Senior (years 10+), and a class for special educational needs (SEND). As well as being sponsored by Julius Baer, the competition is promoted by Guernsey Literary Festival partners including Betley Whitehorne Image, the Guille-Allès Library, Guernsey Arts and Island Families.
M.G. Leonard (Primary judge) is the bestselling writer of children’s books such as Beetle Boy, the Adventures on Trains series and The Twitchers books. Her books have been translated into over forty languages and Beetle Boy is currently in development as a live-action series for TV.
Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho (Intermediate judge) is an award-winning performance poet, playwright and children’s author based in Kent. His debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules (Frances Lincoln, 2014) was the winner of the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award 2015. His work has poetry and performance at its heart, drawing on over 20 years’ experience running dynamic creative literacy sessions in schools. Coelho writes for children of all ages; his picture books include the critically acclaimed Luna Loves… series and If All the World Were . . .which won the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award.
Sita Brahmachari (Senior judge) grew up in the Lake District, a landscape that inspired a lifelong love of nature. Sita’s father was from India where she and her family visited as a child. She never dreamed that she would one day become a writer of plays, short stories, animation, and novels for young people. Since she won the Waterstones Book Award with her first novel Artichoke Hearts (2011) Sita has written many bestselling, Carnegie and UKLA nominated novels. Her story Tender Earth (2017) was honoured by The International Board of Books for Young People and Amnesty International. Her latest novels include Where the River Runs Gold and When Shadows Fall.
SEND judge was Huw Lewis-Jones, who went to school in Guernsey and is a writer and expedition leader on voyages to the North Pole.
Huw is the author of many books including the bestselling The Writer’s Map and Swallowed by a Whale: How to Survive the Writing Life, which included secrets and insights into the writing lives of sixty accomplished authors. He is a Professor of Environment and Culture at Falmouth University as well as Expedition Leader of voyages to the North Pole. He now creates books for children too, with his Bad Apple and Blue Badger series and his latest book Do Bears Poop in the Woods? Huw is a Guest Curator of the Guernsey Literary Festival.
Filter judges included Julia Bichard and Adam Bayfield from the Guille-Alles Library, local author Nick Le Messurier and Suzie Almond, a creative education specialist based in the UK.
The winners received a cash prize, certificate and an illustration drawn by local illustrator James De La Rue to illustrate their stories. There was also a trophy for the first in each class.
Primary, judged by M. G. Leonard
1, Sybil Henderson (Year 3, Notre Dame) – Our Planet’s Lungs
2, Genevieve Driver (Year 5, Notre Dame) – Ivy and Stripe
3, Annabelle Shires (Year 6, Beechwood) – The Land of the Long Cloud
Jacinta Ozanne (Year 3, Notre Dame) – The Ferocious Tiger
Solomon Bearder (Year 5, Hautes Capelles) – The Sunken Village
Noah Le Noury (Year 4, Blanchelande) – The Battle for the Island
Hugo Gouveia (Year 4, Notre Dame) My Adventure in the Amazon Rainforest
Intermediate, judge by Joseph Coelho
1, Sienna Wallen (Year 7, Ladies College) – the Greenhouse
2, Herbie Stow (Year 9, Elizabeth College) – Small Fragile World
3, Annabelle Smith (Year 8, Ladies College) – Drifting
Amelie Rodliffe (Year 7, Ladies College) – My Perch
Noah Nicolle (Year 8, Elizabeth College) – The King of the Forest
James Robinson (Year 9, Elizabeth College) – Desert
Gabriel Bachman (Year 7, Elizabeth College) – My Peruvian Adventure
Erin Cullwick (Year 7, Elizabeth College) – The Final Orangutan
Senior (Year 10+), judged by Sita Brahmachari
Senior, judged by Sita Brahmachari
1, Jake Taylor (Elizabeth College) – Trapped
2, Lily Strappini (Les Beaucamps High) – The Girl and Her Tree
3, Sam Savory (Elizabeth College) – My Escape
Barney Paxton (Elizabeth College) – Hidden Away
Sommchai Blondin (St Sampson’s High) – Carrion
Jasmine Lockwood (Ladies College) – Wonder
Barton Wilkes (Elizabeth College) – A Lost World
Ralph Humphries (Elizabeth College) – Future
SEND category judged by Huw Lewis-Jones
Primary SEND winner
Jake Donaldson (Le Rondin) — Luke and the Street Clean Crew
Fletch O’Hara (Forest) – Stormy Day
Secondary SEND winner
Dylan Robilliard (Le Murier) – Toasty and the Buzzard
Charlie Mauger-Crowson ( Le Murier) – Why is Barry a Grizzly Bear?