THE 2017 WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS today announced its winners during a ceremony involving over 115 shortlisted finalists and their families and teachers at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical WICKED.
Amongst this year’s finalists were consciously crafted stories, poems and non-fiction pieces of writing. The brave and honest writing showed a hopefulness for the world and understanding of the importance of empathy and the need to give a voice to issues that concerned them, including mental illness, dementia, kindness to strangers, hope in adversity, forced marriage, the importance of community in the digital age and the value of education to change the world and help us feel compassion.
Now it its 7th year, the Awards encourage young people aged 5-25 years to use writing as a way of expressing themselves, producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. Over 25,000 young people have entered the Awards since they began in 2009, with this year seeing the fastest growing level of entries to date. Over 600 primary and secondary schools and colleges entered this year’s competition from all over the UK with a particularly impressive rise in entries for the 8-10 and 18-25 categories.
Championed by Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, this year’s judges included former Labour MP, Ed Balls, ITV News Arts Editor, Nina Nannar and the acclaimed performance poet and writer Laura Dockrill. Author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell, returned as Head Judge for the third consecutive year, together with 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 is also a guest judge for the FOR GOOD Award for Non-Fiction.
Gaby Roslin, TV and radio presenter, hosted the ceremony with prizes presented by Head Judge Cressida Cowell and the panel of prestigious judges.
Cressida Cowell said of the winners, “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 said, “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.”
WICKED cast members also performed songs from the hit musical including the popular ‘For Good’, as well as readings of the winning entries, which were revealed as:
Winner: Adam Rafael Holmes, 7, 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, 6, from Botley, Oxford for The Four Seasons
(A poem about the seasons full of imaginative description and inventive use of words language. It also features a unique and heartfelt welcome to refugees).
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).
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).
Winner: Julia McGrattan, 17, from Hemel Hempstead for Perfectly Unstable
(A brave, brilliantly executed, short story tackling a 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).
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).
WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS
The WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created by the award-winning musical WICKED, were set up to encourage and recognise excellence in writing, and creativity, and help develop literacy and writing talent in young people between the ages of 5 and 25. Since launching in 2010, over 25,000 young people have entered original and thought-provoking pieces of writing that consistently reflect the interests, concerns and deepest thoughts of young people, providing a first-look at the emerging voices of a new generation.
The Awards are separated into six categories, for entrants between the ages of 5-25. They allow young people from across the UK and Ireland to enter a piece of writing on a theme or subject of their choice. Young people are free to submit entries written at home or at school, and teachers are encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils. Exclusive teachers’ resources can be found online including tips for inspiring and encouraging writing in the classroom.
The 2017 Awards sees the second year of 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 we live in. This category celebrates the WICKED: FOR GOOD philanthropic programme, which supports the work of multiple charities.
115 finalists from across the UK will see their work published in the Wicked Young Writer Awards Anthology, which will be published in association with Young Writers (www.youngwriters.co.uk). The 115 finalists are also invited to an exclusive ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, home to the musical WICKED since 2006, where judges and members of theWICKED cast announce who has won in each category.
- The overall winners from each category will win £50 book/eBook tokens donated by National Book Tokens and the 5-14 year old winners will receive £100 worth of books for their school library kindly donated by Hachette Children’s Group, a subscription to young people’s current affairs magazine, The Week Junior and a bespoke WICKED workshop for their school.
- Winners in the 15-17, 18-25 and FOR GOOD categories will also win a self-publishing package from Spiderwize and an exclusive writing experience with one of the Awards’ literacy partners. In addition, the winner of the FOR GOOD category will win a work experience placement at The Week Junior.
- The three schools that submit the most entries will also win a Creative Writing Workshop for their school for up to thirty students delivered by WICKED’s education team.
- All winners will win four tickets to see the London production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and an opportunity to meet cast members after the show along with an exclusive backstage tour.