Girls aiming to Rise to the top

This Is Wiltshire: Emily Bettles and Charlotte Atkins Emily Bettles and Charlotte Atkins

Two St Laurence School pupils from Bradford on Avon are hoping to carve careers in music after winning the Young Human Rights Songwriter Performer title at the Amnesty Youth Awards on Wednesday.

Year 10 pupils Charlotte Atkins and Emily Bettles impressed the judges with their composition, called Rise.

Charlotte, 15, who has played the guitar for four years, said: “Rise is about people who don’t have free speech and cannot voice their opinion. We watched the Nelson Mandela movie and listened to the soundtrack for inspiration and visited the Amnesty International website to read case studies.”

Emily, 15, who has played the piano for eight years, said: “We’re speechless; it feels absolutely incredible to have performed on stage at the awards and to have won. We had performed it in front of the school and people had said it was quite good, but we were really nervous as we didn’t know what to expect.”

Brandon Block, education officer at Amnesty International and the judging panel chairman, said the panel was impressed with Rise as “it is both haunting and heartbreaking”. He described Rise as “utterly compelling with its story of despair and voicelessness”.

The pupils practised in their music lessons and before school and recorded the final piece at the Wiltshire Music Centre, before sending it to be judged in the initial rounds, along with 7,000 other entries.

They performed in the final at Amnesty’s London HQ on Wednesday and received their award from Jerry Dammers of The Specials, along with a trophy, certificate and goodie bag.

To listen to Rise visit www.st-laurence.wilts.sch.uk or www.amnesty.org.uk/young-songwriter-awards

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