The Winners

The judges have now announced the results of our writing competition, in which we asked young people in Tetbury and the surrounding area to send us their stories, poems or essays inspired by the question/exclamation ‘What on Earth?!”.

We had a very good selection of entries on the topic – especially from the 8-12 group – and the title meant you could write on anything which took your fancy from the climate crisis to the war in Ukraine.

The winner in the 8-12 group was “Fireflies” by Noah David from Upper Minety

In the 13-16 group, the judges couldn’t decide on an overall winner so there are two highly commendeds. They are “Attack on Tetbury” by Jack Carter from Tetbury and “The man no-one wants to be” by Stella Noble, also from Tetbury.

Congratulations to the three of them. The formal prize giving of a £20 book token to spend in the Yellow Lighted Bookshop, and two £10 book tokens for the two highly commendeds will be awarded at a ceremony on June 4th at The Goods Shed coinciding with the official opening of the recently-installed signal box.

A big thank you to everyone who took part! And to our hard-working judges: Christine Berry, who is a Goods Shed Trustee and former teacher and has been one of the selectors for the BBC Young Writers Award; Phil Kirby, who runs our writers’ group at the Goods Shed, and Annie Hooper, author and journalist.

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The winning entries

Here are the winning entries. Click on each title to read the submission.

Amelia was having a good day. She had already spotted 3 Bullfinches, 7 Greenfinches, 6 Hawfinches, 27 Starlings, the list went on and on and on. The point was, Amelia had a love of animals, birds in particular. She loved the way they swooped and curled and dived and dropped through the air like a stone, then returning with a worm or a beetle in their beak.

But a bird that Amelia surprisingly had never seen was a swallow. She had read about them, of course, but had never seen them. No one knew why, but they just didn’t live there.

Until today, when Amelia saw a whole group of swallows speeding along the borders like a bullet from the barrel of a gun.

They almost seemed to be coming towards her. She wanted to run and grab her camera, but the swallows actually came towards her, twittering as they went, and pulled her clear off of the ground. They seemed to fly around and around and around the Earth, but then suddenly stopped and hovered over a huge, sprawling city in the heart of an industrial zone.

To Amelia, this was the picture of inhumanity. There wasn’t a living thing in sight, not least birds, and the inhabitants didn’t have a patch of green in their stone cold (if you could call them these) gardens, like her home. It was just Gray Gray Gray.

She wanted to be sick from the fumes coming off of everything, but stopped when she noticed something. A single, withered, tiny tree. There was hope, she thought, there is a chance.

So she gathered up the seeds, one by one, and planted them in every patch of soil she could find, and then went home to get back to her birdwatching. Almost instantly, the trees started springing up and they grew and grew and grew.

“What is this?” the people of the city said, but they didn’t destroy the trees. They let them grow. And soon after, those trees produced their own seeds, and Amelia returned and planted them as well, so that many more trees sprang up, breaking the concrete to reveal undisturbed soil.

Soon the city was alive with a green forest of tiny trees, reaching their green fingered hands up to the sky. And then, the most magical thing happened. In this used-to-be-barren city, wildlife found its way in.

Soon after, the animals took over Amelia’s job, spreading the seeds of the trees every year, and eating their berries and pollinating their flowers.

A Few Years Later.

Now there is a bustling city that blends in perfectly with the lush forests surrounding it. It is full of nature and wildlife, and people and animals live in harmony, together.

To think that the flower filled, beautiful city was once a gray gray gray town with only one single, lonely, withered tree just growing in it.

Now, every year, a young woman comes to visit, and at night her room is always surrounded by a dazzling display of birds, animals and a nightly firework display of fireflies, burning brightly against the pitch black night.

The man no-one wants to be

I dream of places far away
Anywhere but here
I dream of places hot or cold
Were all the skies are clear
All these places I long to be
But still I am stuck hear
Were the sound of bombs
Causes ringing in my ear
What on earth is happening
Who could be this cruel
To murder all these innocent people
He’s acting like a fool
Our brave president
Is fighting for power
While he just sits and observes
high up in our tower
happy in his comfort
while others waste away
what on earth is happening
has the world come to this
were bully’s need to prove their worth
like on a football pitch
people here are dying
pushed from their homes
yet this bully still thinks
he needs to prove himself
but anyone can see
all he’s done is become
the man no one wants to be

It was a normal day in Tetbury, there were people walking along the streets, going in and out of shops, talking, laughing, eating and drinking. Then it became very quiet, so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, BOOM! There was a large crashing noise and people were screaming and running all over the place.

A massive ship appeared out of nowhere and started shooting laser-beams, it was like something from Star Wars and I was scared half to death. I ran home as fast as I could; as I was running I saw attack bots descend from the ship. They were followed by attack drones.

Once I was inside my house, I told my mum and dad everything that had happened. They said we needed to leave immediately, so we started packing. Once we were done, we took our dog and cat and headed over to my nan’s house to pick her and her cat up. So she got ready and we drove over to Southampton where we boarded a ferry to the Isle of Wight.

Once we arrived, we drove to a holiday park. They were letting a few people in for free because of a festival that was happening. We told them what had happened and we said more people might be arriving. We found our cabin and unpacked everything, then got nan settled in her cabin.

We then rang loads of people to find out if it had happened anywhere else, it hadn’t, it was only Tetbury. But what would aliens want with charity, antique and wool shops? It was confusing to all of us, we just couldn’t figure it out, so we gave up and went to bed early.

The next day was hectic. There were dozens of people from Tetbury arriving at this holiday resort, it was now packed full! I found my friend and helped him and his mum find their cabin. They told me that there were people still trapped in Tetbury because the aliens had set up a border around the town.

Apparently, they were forcing people to make statues and work in mines, excavating an ore they call Omniscite. According to the aliens, it’s really valuable. Somebody needed to save the citizens of Tetbury, so I started to enlist people to help me.

Once I’d collected enough ‘soldiers’ we planned our exit. We were not allowed out of the camp, just in case the aliens came after us, so we planed to go at night. We were just about to leave when my Nan appeared out of nowhere, all mysterious like and said, “if you’re going to save those people, be safe”, adding “go get those evil tin heads and don’t get anyone killed or I won’t cook you a chicken dinner when you get back. I said “OK, love you nan” and I ran after the others.

Once I’d caught up to them we ran to the docks and we stole a boat big enough to hold at least fifty people and set off back home. Once we arrived at shore, we had to find a way to get to Tetbury. Luckily there was a bus heading to Malmesbury, so we hopped on board and headed off.

Once we arrived in Malmesbury, all of us started to run to Tetbury. The sun was starting to rise and we were nearly there. At the border of Tetbury we started to plan how to get in but, we were halfway through the plan and one of the robots spotted us.

“Well that’s getting in sorted”, I whispered to one of the people with me. “Now the problem is helping fifty people get out”, but I had a plan.

It all happened in one night, first we had to distract the robot aliens, so we set of dynamite in an empty tent and all the robots ran towards it. We ended up getting twenty five people out with that one, but with the next distraction we got fifteen people out so just ten more to go.

With one last distraction we had saved everybody, and we headed back to the boat. The next day we were back home and because there was nobody left in Tetbury, the aliens left. I guess it all worked out in the end. How I love it when a plan comes together!