On the evening of Thursday 20 October St Mary’s School, Cambridge hosted its fifth annual Creative Writing Competition final, for boys and girls in Year 5 to Year 8 across Cambridgeshire, celebrating the success of the competition which saw more entries than any previous year.
To mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London entrants were asked to imagine what it might have been like to be in London during the dramatic five days when fire consumed the centre of the city: describing how the fire started at the bakery in Pudding Lane; writing as if they were someone who narrowly escaped or who lost their home and possessions; imagining they were one of the people who tried to control the fire; or detailing the destruction of buildings and famous landmarks.
For the first year in the competition’s history, winners of both age categories – Year 5 and Year 6, and Year 7 and Year 8, which saw 286 entries and 120 entries respectively – were St Mary’s School, Cambridge students: winner of the Year 5 and Year 6 category was Year 6 pupil, Lila R., and winner of the Year 7 and Year 8 category was Year 7 student, Imogen C., and both girls received a £50 book token. A total of 12 schools in the region participated, including St Mary’s Junior School and Senior School, with: Cromwell Academy; Dame Bradbury's School; Down Hall Primary School; Fowlmere Primary School; Harston and Newton Community Primary School; Hauxton Primary School; Howe Green House School; Magdalene House; Newnham Croft Primary School; and St John’s College School.
St Mary’s School, Cambridge Headmistress, Charlotte Avery, said: “The extracts from the entrants’ stories that were read aloud on Thursday evening by my colleagues, Mrs Helen Garrett and Mrs Hester Glass, demonstrated how young writers have such a knack for creativity – the breadth and depth of imagination and perspective that young people are able to achieve is fantastic.”
Winners and students whose stories were Highly Commended were announced by Cambridge-based author and illustrator Chris Priestly, who wrote the Tales of Terror series and many other novels in the long-loved tradition of horror stories inspired by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley. Priestly’s top tip for the audience of young writers was to “read everything you write out loud to yourself.”
Ms Avery continued: “This competition is one of the highlights of my year; it’s an event that’s grown like topsy and we were grateful to have local author, Chris, with us to inspire creativity in our young writers. Chris is a great advocate of creative collaboration, and children benefit from finding other creative writers and building networks and sharing ideas with them. Our Creative Writing scholars, who are aged 11 to 18, are fortunate to be encouraged and supported in doing exactly this and are also provided with dedicated workshops and talks by renowned authors who visit the school each year. No doubt we will see some of this year’s entrants’ names on the lists of best-sellers in the future.”