Young Writer District Finalist Vishali Gokani receives her certificate from Rotarian Scott Wolstenholme

As in previous years, the Club hosted the Young Writers’ Evening, where the winning entries from the Rotary Young Writers’ competition are read out to the Club by the winners themselves or by volunteers, carefully selected and assisted by Rotarian Caroline.

Rotarian Scott started planning for the Young Writers event as soon as RIBI (Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland) announced the year’s topic in September. Last year it was the single word ‘peace’; this year, it’s ‘rebuilding’, both no doubt chosen because of the awful scenes of devastation we’ve seen in Ukraine and Gaza, but broad enough to invite reflections on all aspects of life.

Scott’s first task was to invite schools to participate. We’ve had entries from 3 primary schools in the past, and from 6 high schools. Scott wrote to them all again, and to Temple Learning Academy, where Rotarians helped out with mock interviews last year. Sadly, early expressions of enthusiasm didn’t translate into scripts coming in.

Roundhay School did come through for us, as they always have done. And this year, for the first time, we got excellent submissions from Allerton Grange High School. In all we got 99 scripts.

Scott read them all, mostly with admiration and enjoyment. The kids are amazing, but it’s obvious that the teachers inspire them to write creatively. We don’t normally give the teachers the credit they deserve.

Themes from the 99 entries included the awful effects of war from the point of view of children and teenagers; the resilience of the human spirit in carrying on and rebuilding, settling into new communities. Then there were other contemporary themes of importance to the young: miscommunication on social media, bullying, depression, anorexia, and inspiring accounts of overcoming these, learning to live with people’s differences and rebuilding trust and lives. There were some stunningly original pieces too.

It was very hard to choose the best. The overall standard was so good. Scott whittled the 99 down to a manageable number and passed them to our literary judge, Alex. She had to pick 2 winners, one in the intermediate category, [11-13] and one in the senior category [14-17]. When Scott sent the material to Alex, he was careful not to identify which school was attended by any particular writer. Alex unwittingly managed a diplomatic master stroke. Unaware of the identity of the schools, she selected the intermediate winner from Roundhay, Vishali, and the senior winner from Allerton Grange, Umar.

Our two winners were then entered into the District competition. Incredibly and for the first time, our Club’s winners both won at District and now go through to the National Final. There they will compete with entries from at least 21 other districts. We get the results of the national final in June.

Alex’s task included the selection of a runner up in each category. Scott also invited her to select a discretionary number from the rest to ‘highly commend’ or, exceptionally, to ‘very highly commend’. Alex identified twelve award winners: two winners, two runners up and four very highly commended. She also selected four highly commended.

With her consent Scott then played a wild card and added another entry which had been one of his favourites. On re-reading, Alex agreed this also deserved to be highly commended.

Scott spent £200 on book tokens for the award winners ranging from £25.00 for winners down to £10.00 for highly commended. All got certificates along with prizes and they have been distributed in the schools already. Scott managed to attend Year 7 assembly at Roundhay on behalf of the club early on Friday, 15 March. Scott told them about Rotary, slipped in a plug for the family friendly afternoon at the Beer Festival, and gave out the prizes.

Our Young Writers’ Evening was a fitting celebration of the talent of young people in our community.The following is a write up for the Allerton Grange school newsletter, by one of the young writers, 17 year old Hester, who read her own piece at the Young Writers’ evening.

On the evening of the 18th of March, I attended a dinner with the Rotary Club of Roundhay for the writing competition that they organised. They served a lovely roast dinner, and it was all very formal, but the main event of the night was the reading of some of the prize-winning pieces from the competition.

I was there alongside only one of the other writers (Vishali, who had won the intermediate category with her moving work titled ‘I Will Push Through This’), however I was the only writer to read my own work. All the others were performed amazingly by members of the club. Perhaps I should note that entries from Allerton Grange populated over half of the running order, including the entire senior category. My favourite from the night was Antonina’s entry (age 13 years, Allerton Grange) who had managed to track a similar thought process to me. That thought process being- what does one rebuild?… A body. It was specifically noted on the night that

there was a great showing of poetry in comparison to previous years and some of the stuff written by kids as young as 11 was mind-blowing. Massive well done to all of the other writers whose work was featured: Agatha, Ava, Gus, Antonina, Sara, Vishali, Hinal, Khadija, Sumayyan, Afsana and Umar.












Get in touch with Roundhay Rotary Club:

0113 266 6203