From 220 entries, three winners have been revealed from the Nature on your Doorstep writing competition: Danielle Amouzou-Akue (14) from Essex, Anna Stone (10) from Norfolk and Benji Janes (6) from Sussex.
All three winning stories will be published in an upcoming issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
“Stories are at the core of everything we do on BBC Wildlife Magazine, so we were thrilled to be able to support this competition and offer the next generation of wildlife writers the chance to see their work appear in the country’s longest-running natural history magazine,” says Paul McGuinness, editor of BBC Wildlife.
“The standard of entries was exceptional, and a real testament to what’s important in telling stories. It’s not about grammar, spelling or demonstrating a wide vocabulary (although I was amazed at the level of all three), it’s about truly engaging with your subject. And that’s what makes Nature on Your Doorstep so vital right now.”
Launched in April by nature writer and storyteller Lucy McRobert, the competition aimed to connect children and young adults with the nature right outside their homes – up in the sky, on their streets, in their gardens, from their windows – during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I, and all the judges, have been so moved by the stories we have received. We have laughed and cried and mourned and smiled and learned lots, too,” says McRobert.
“Two things struck me. First, we’ve seen many children who struggle with writing who have been motivated to write a story for the first time. They might have dyslexia or English as second language and yet they produced beautiful prose and imaginative ideas. Second was the way that nature can heal us, help us, inspire us and provide solace. We had entries from children who had suffered from bullying; who were recovering from serious illnesses and in strict self-isolation; who were separated from parents because of coronavirus; who had suffered recent tragedy or even bereavement.”
The winner of the 13-17 category, Danielle Amouzou-Ake, read her story on Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin’s broadcast of The Self-Isolating Bird Club on Friday 19 June.
Nature on your Doorstep on The Self-Isolating Bird Club (from 13.23, Danielle Amouzou-Ake reads her story at 14.23):
— The Self-Isolating Bird Club (@SIBirdClub) June 19, 2020
The competition was judged by a team of wildlife writers, champions and publishers:
- Lucy McRobert, nature storyteller and writer
- Paul McGuinness, editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine
- Jini Reddy, journalist and author
- Stephen Moss, one of the UK’s leading nature writers
- Tiffany Francis, nature writer and illustrator
- Judy Ling Wong, painter, poet and environmental activist
- Hugh Warwick, ecologist and author
- Mya-Rose Craig, naturalist and president of Black2Nature
- Anita Sethi, writer and journalist
“It was a hard competition to judge,” adds McRobert, “but the diversity of stories – from different backgrounds, ages, cultures right across the UK – has meant for a magical experience. Children have shown us the different ways that they experience nature, and it feels purer and more authentic than we do as adults.”
Extracts from the winning stories:
The Homecoming, by Danielle Amouzou-Akue (14):
The Apple Tree, Anna Stone (10):
The Story of Flutter and Flims, Benji Janes (6):
All three winners and the three runners-up, Daisy Oldfield (16) Elsa Lazaro-Fitzgerald (11) and Scarlett Serventi (6), will receive prizes, and all entrants will receive a certificate of participation designed by Tiffany Francis-Baker.
Main image: Boy writing outdoors. © Navee Sangvitoon/EyeEm/Getty