Young story-tellers who participated in an annual writing competition have been praised for their creativity and imagination.
More than 800 students aged 21 and under entered the Hall Caine Prize for Creative Writing, named after the famous Manx novelist and sponsored by his great granddaughter, Gloria Rukeyser.
They were invited to create a short story, memoir or the opening chapter of a novel on the theme of ‘space’.
Entries were judged in four categories: Primary, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5/University College Isle of Man (UCM), with cash prizes and certificates for first, second and third placed and highly commended students.
Mrs Rukeyser presented the prizes today at The Studio Theatre, Ballakermeen School in Douglas.
Like her famous ancestor, Mrs Rukeyser is a writer and journalist. Her family still occupies the novelist’s former home, historic Greeba Castle.
This year, she was again impressed by the variety of imaginative responses to the theme and expressed her delight at the talent displayed by the students who participated.
Commenting on the exceptional creativity of competition entrants, Graham Cregeen MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said: ‘The wonder and curiosity of our young people has driven them to think beyond their everyday existence and embrace space in a novel way.
‘The many stories submitted reflect a love for writing in our youngsters, whilst inviting us on an exploratory mission into their and our imagination. We are proud of everyone involved in the Hall Caine Prize and congratulations to the prize winners.’
Toby Melling, 11, a pupil at Ballaugh Primary School, won the £100 first prize in the Primary category with a story called ‘Memories Never Forgotten’.
He explained: ‘I thought of space as the distance between heaven and earth. I like to look up in the night sky to see the brightest star to remember my granddad. My story isn’t all about my own granddad, but contained memories for readers to remember their own lost loved ones.’
Rebecca Minay, 14, a student at Ballakermeen High School, and Jerry Yao, 12, of St Ninian’s High School, were joint first prize winners in Key Stage 3 and received £150 each.
Rebecca said: ‘A friend inspired my story, ‘Acceptance’. Her parents want something of her that she doesn’t want. I reflect that we should not let adults control our future. My friend is like my character, Jessamine. After the first paragraph, the words started flowing out of my fingers and onto the screen. It was easy to write from then on.’
Jerry Yao’s story was called ‘Hibernation in Space’. She said: ‘The theme made me think of the new sci-fi movie, Passenger, and I took inspiration from it. If you hibernated in space, you wouldn’t grow older but your family would and, when you returned to earth, they would have aged or passed away. Hopefully technology will advance and ageing will be slowed or stopped. I want people to read my story and to think about their own family and how much they owe to them.’
Zachary Elliott, 15, of Castle Rushen High School, was the Key Stage 4 winner and recipient of £175 for his story, ‘A Highland Space’. He said: ‘My story is a description of the Highlands and how they change throughout the day. It was inspired by the beautiful landscapes in Scotland that spread for miles, creating an incredible, vast space.’
Another Castle Rushen student, Olivia Hewins, 17, took the Key Stage 5/University College Isle of Man category first prize of £200 with her story, ‘Space and Me’.
A visit to a London theatre to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time inspired it, she explained. ‘I focused on personal space and what this means to someone with autism, like the play’s protagonist. I felt compelled to present autism in a personal and intimate way and to demonstrate how someone with autism sees and interacts with the world around them. I hope the result is a light-hearted and entertaining read.’
The competition’s judges were: Primary – Ann Miller from Scoill-yn-Jubilee and James Davis from Manx Radio; Key Stage 3 –Katie Shelley from Queen Elizabeth II High School, Gaynor Moss from St Ninian’s High School and James Davis; Key Stage 4 – Archana Kamble from Castle Rushen High School and Rachael Moore from Ballakermeen High School; Key Stage 5/Isle of Man College – Karen Maloney from Castle Rushen High School and Zeba Clarke from King William’s College.
Photo - Mrs Rukeyser and the five first prize winners.