Pupils from Southampton, Eastleigh and Hook take prizes in Ali Sparkes writing award

Amber Petley, age 13, from Swanmore College, Southampton, has won The Scribe Tribe Young Writer of 2020 competition run by Hampshire County Council’s Library Service. The writing contest, designed to give young people a creative opportunity during the Coronavirus lockdown, attracted nearly a hundred submissions from pupils aged 9 to 14 across Hampshire and beyond

Jun 25 2020

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “My congratulations to Amber for winning with such a thoughtful, funny and well-crafted entry. The standard was very high, which makes the achievement all the more impressive. I am glad to see our Library Service supporting such incredible talent in the community during these challenging times.”

Hampshire Library Service launched The Scribe Tribe Young Writer of 2020 competition with local children’s author Ali Sparkes. Budding wordsmiths were encouraged to submit an original story or poem of up to 400 words based on one of several challenges. The story entries had to begin with the sentence: “It was lockdown week seven and then, out of the blue…”. Poems had to start with one of three opening lines: “The view from my window…”, “If I could travel anywhere…” or “Where have all the loo rolls gone?”

To help children craft their skills and to keep them inspired during lockdown, Ali Sparkes hosted daily writing challenge videos on Hampshire Libraries Facebook page - called ‘Scribe Tribe Snacks’ - for 9 to 14-year-olds, in the first week of May.

Councillor Woodward added: “I wish to thank Ali Sparkes for supporting this event and for all her work with our libraries and schools over the years. Many children and young people facing disruption to their education still feel able to keep learning and express themselves creatively – and so much of that is down to the energy and enthusiasm of people like Ali.”

Amber Petley took the top prize with her story ‘It Was Lockdown Week Seven...’ In her summary of the tale about a dragon, Ali Sparkes said: “Amber’s wonderful feel for description and dry, understated humour really pulled me into the story - and her ending made me laugh out loud.”

Amber’s mum, Louisa Petley, said: “Thanks Hampshire Library Service! My daughter is absolutely bowled over to have won and, no surprises to anyone who knows her, it was about dragons! Thank you very much for running the competition and thank you to Ali - she was pleased as punch to hear Ali Sparkes reading her short story!"

The two runners-up were Sage Sipaul, age 9, from Sherborne House School, for the poem ‘Where Have All The Loo Rolls Gone?’ and William Hoyland, age 14, from Lord Wandsworth College, for his story ‘The Hurt Lockdown’.

The three finalists will each get signed copies of Ali Sparkes books, plus feedback from the author on their submissions. As the overall winner, Amber will receive signed copies of the whole ‘Night Speaker’ series by Ali Sparkes and a free place on the week-long Scribe Tribe writing masterclass. All the long-listed entrants will be published as an anthology on Hampshire Libraries’ BorrowBox app.

The competition ran from 8 May to 4 June and was open to any school that wished to take part. There were 96 entries in total. Ali Sparkes announced the winner on Monday 22 June by live video on the Hampshire Library Service Facebook page.