FOR 12 years, the Swindon Youth Festival of Literature has aimed to instil a lifelong love of reading and writing in pupils around the town.

Authors, poets and illustrators inspired schoolchildren to get creative and come up with their own imaginative writing and art.

The youngsters’ efforts were rewarded in a celebration ceremony which highlighted the best efforts of the little literature lovers.

Swindon-born author Karen Gregory judged the creative writing competition. She said: "All the entries were brilliant - there is clearly a lot of writing talent in Swindon.

"They showed a great range and flair but the winners displayed something extra, like an unusual response to the picture that inspired the story or a great twist."

The Swindon Association of School Headteachers sponsors the event.

Chairman and Ridgeway School principal James Povoas said: "From modest beginnings, this event has grown year on year, nurturing a passion for writing and reading.

"We are able to attract the most popular authors and poets from all genres who write for young people, which is a testament to how well-regarded this festival is.

"More than 5,000 students from more than 50 schools have taken part this year and more than 100,000 students have been part of the festival over the last 12 years.

"A love of reading improves education outcomes for students and has non-academic benefits like improving empathy and understanding in young people.

"Never has there been more of an important time in this digital world to sit down for a quiet break and read."

Poet Ash Dickinson judged a poetry competition based on the theme of truth. Steve Antony judged illustrations based on an extract from the book Poet X then held a workshop with the six winners.

A library ambassador from each school received prizes for going above and beyond in their efforts to support their school libraries.

Bower and Bailey Solicitors sponsored the certificates given to reigning inter-school book quiz winners from Ridgeway School.

The traditional trophy was donated by festival founder Fiona Hardcastle.

Swindon College hosted the event for the first time in its library. Lizzie Scott said: "This has been an incredible festival and we were really pleased to host everyone."

Dorcan Academy librarian Kate Murphy lead the team that organised this year's festival. She said: "I'm pleased and relieved to say that 2019 saw another successful festival. It was great to have this celebration in the familiar setting of a library."


Creative Writing

Years 7 and 8

1st - Eleni Gaisford, Great Western Academy

2nd - Hayden Honor, Dorcan Academy

3rd - Jacob Parkinson, Highworth Warneford School

Years 9 to 11

1st - Charlotte Dillon, Lydiard Park Academy

2nd - Patrick Lane, Dorcan Academy

3rd - Violet Constable-Coble, Commonweal School

Overall winner - Eleni Gaisford

Poetry Competition

Years 7 and 8

1st - Alicia Atsvei Adyei, Lydiard Park Academy

2nd - Mahnoor Shoaib, Lawn Manor Academy

3rd - Maskaan Chamling, St Joseph's Catholic College

Years 9 to 11

1st - Rezel Baretto, St Joseph's Catholic College

2nd - Catelyn Sinclair, Commonweal School

3rd - Rosie Cantwell, Ridgeway School

Overall winner- Alicia Atsvei

Illustration Competition

Years 7 and 8

1st - Jaiden Dix, Nova Hreod Academy

2nd - Shania Da Cunna, St Joseph's Catholic College

3rd - Florence Dixon, Highworth Warneford School

Years 9 to 11

1st - Jodie Hackett, Kingsdown School

2nd - Ronnie Sparks, Highworth Warneford School

3rd - Lucia Beggan, St Joseph's Catholic College

Library Ambassadors

Abbey Park School - Lizzie Rattenbury

Commonweal School - Jawairya Niazi

Dorcan Academy - Keane Ellis

Great Western Academy - Josh Ebden

Kingsdown School - Finley Davies

Lawn Manor Academy - Richard Hewitson

Lydiard Park Academy - Dulcie Ball

Nova Hreod Academy - Amelia Higgins

Ridgeway School - Seren Rollinson

St Joseph's Catholic College - Mary-Kate Miller

Swindon Academy - Jessica Matthews

Highworth Warneford School - William Owen