Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights,
before the dark hour of reason grows.
John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells
Photo credit: Sam Lane
Sophie Hannah, Seraphima Goeldner-Thompson, Michael Bourton, Jasmine Burgess and Candida Lycett Green at St Pancras International
The poet and bestselling crime fiction writer Sophie Hannah, who was also one of the judges of this year’s competition, awarded a thousand pound prize to Michael Bourton (aged 12), the winner of the 7th annual John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People, in a ceremony held at St Pancras International on National Poetry Day, Thursday 3rd October. Writer A.N. Wilson and actors Sir Edward Fox and Kenneth Cranham had all shown up to support the competition.
First established in 2006 by the family of the former Poet Laureate, the competition aims to encourage children to read, write and be inspired by poetry. It also seeks to unearth hidden talent and to give due praise to the teachers of the prize winners. Sophie’s co-judge was the prize-winning novelist Susan Hill.
Over 2,000 schoolchildren entered this year’s competition and the highly commended entrants along with the three shortlisted finalists attended the ceremony to collect their prizes. The overall winner Michael Bourton from Mancot in Flintshire was presented with a cheque for £1,000 and Eurostar tickets. The two runners-up were Jasmine Burgess (aged 12), a pupil at Oxford Spires Academy, and Seraphima Goeldner-Thompson (aged 13), from Abingdon, Oxon.
One-day poetry workshops have been awarded to selected schools: Stoke Hill Junior School (Exeter) – Brian Patten; Mayflower Primary School (Tower Hamlets) – Adisa the Poet; Richard Lander School (Truro) – Rupert Loydell and Callum Mitchell; St James CE Primary School (East Hanney) – Kate Clanchy; Graveney School (Tooting) – Laura Dockrill; Carr Hill School (Kirkham) – John Rice; Walton Primary School (Wakefield) – Ian McMillan; and Oxford Spires Academy – George the Poet.
Past poetry workshops have proved, without exception, to have had fantastically positive outcomes, and continue to be a vital part of what we strive to achieve in the way of enhancing children’s lives through poetry.
The competition is closed for entries.