This year, the theme for the GDST Creative Writing prize was ‘Bouncing back’ and the entries were judged by Rachel Hore, an alumna of Sutton High School and author of eleven novels, many of them Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers.
Rachel commented on GDST Creative Writing prize:
“I have enjoyed reading this year’s entries and the theme of Bouncing Back has proved to be a fertile one. Whilst younger students found inspiration in the natural world with some wonderfully evoked settings, the older age groups dealt maturely with more challenging, sometimes very dark subject matter. There is a wonderful range of talent on display and their work gave me a great deal of pleasure.”
And now to the winners and runners up…
Years 1 & 2
AN ADVENTURE WITH PENGUIN – Chloe Desaedeleer – Wimbledon High School
A charming and well-informed tale set in Antarctica of a potentially very scary incident that is turned into fun and adventure. *Chloe will receive a £50 Waterstones voucher
BUZZING BACK – Isobel Dewar – Nottingham Girls’ High School
A lively poem in appreciation of bees. Excellent awareness of the possibilities of rhythm and rhyme. *Isobel will receive a £25 Waterstones voucherRead Isobel's story
MY BIG DREAM – Victoria Woon – South Hampstead High School
A tenderly written tale of a budding ballerina learning to overcome failure. A mature approach to the subject matter. *Victoria will receive a £25 Waterstones voucherRead Victoria's story
Years 3 & 4
DANNY’S WHALE ADVENTURE – Maila Kante – South Hampstead High School
Vivid descriptive writing and a lively voice mark out this exuberant, well-structured story of being swallowed by a whale. *Maila will receive a £50 Waterstones voucherRead Maila's story
THE LOST BEAR – Heidi Powell – Birkenhead High School Academy
Excellent dialogue and an engaging, whimsical voice bring to life this exciting adventure of saving a real lost bear. *Heidi will receive a £25 Waterstones voucherRead Heidi's story
FANTASTIC PHOEBE MAKES HISTORY – Jisoo Park – Sutton High School
This vividly narrated story updates ancient myth in an inventive manner to demonstrate how girls can win! *Jisoo will receive a £25 Waterstones voucherRead Jisoo's story
Years 5 & 6
A STORY OF LIFE IN OCCUPIED JERSEY – Maggie Rankin – Sydenham High School
A well-researched historical tale of bravery and endurance in Nazi-Occupied Jersey during World War II. Beautifully narrated with some fine descriptive writing. *Maggie will receive a £100 Waterstones voucherRead Maggie's story
BOUNCING BACK – Jessica Singh – Wimbledon High School
Inventive with language and narrated in a lively fashion, this well-imagined tale concerning a Victorian chimney sweep boy leaps from the page.
Years 7, 8 & 9
KABUL – Zahra Cheema – Oxford High School
A mature approach to difficult subject matter is on display in this tender, immersive tale of survival and hope from the point of view of a young Afghan refugee. *Zahra will receive a £100 Waterstones voucherRead Zahra's story
VIGILANT VOLLEYBALL – Catherine He – Bromley High School
A dramatic and well paced story about bouncing back in sport.
Years 10 & 11
REBOUND – Tessa Greenfield – Oxford High School
This imaginatively structured poem about struggling with identity and suicidal intentions is inventive with language and causes the reader to see things differently. *Tessa will receive a £100 Waterstones voucherRead Tessa's story
UNDERWATER – Daphne Anastasakis – Brighton Girls
This commanding narrative of an addict choosing rehabilitation addresses challenging material in an emotionally articulate and nuanced fashion.
Years 12 & 13
WE ARE VERY LITTLE THINGS – Maddie Whitmore – Royal High School Bath
An accomplished, mature and nuanced piece of experimental writing that examines the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter through a modern lens. *Maddie will receive a £100 Waterstones voucherRead Maddie's story
I HAVE FOUND A SUBSTITUTE FOR FIRE – Penelope Toong – South Hampstead High School
A highly imaginative post-Apocalyptic tale with a strongly evoked setting and beautifully sensuous writing.
Many, many congratulations to the winners! We hope you enjoy their brilliant stories.
Rachel Hore attended Sutton High School between 1970 and 1978, after which she read Modern History at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. For many years she enjoyed a career as an editor for HarperCollins in London before moving with her family to Norwich, where she started to write fiction and taught publishing and creative writing part-time at the University of East Anglia. Rachel is now a full-time writer, the author of eleven novels, many of them Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers. A Place of Secrets, Last Letter Home and A Beautiful Spy were each selected by Richard and Judy for their Bookclub in association with WH Smith. The Glass Painter’s Daughter (2009) was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year. A Gathering Storm (2011) was shortlisted for their Historical Novel of the Year. Her new novel, A Beautiful Spy, based on a real-life story of a 1930s female spy, was published in 2021.