Sancton Wood School in Cambridge recently held the finals of Poetry Together, a competition and charity founded by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, created with the aim of uniting young and old through the joy of performing poetry by heart.
This year’s competition encouraged students and older adults to write their own short poem based around the theme of Laughter & Tears, receiving over 500 submissions from across the UK. Those shortlisted were invited to Sancton Wood School to take part in poetry workshops and perform their poems in front of a panel of illustrious judge, including Gyles Brandreth, Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho and award-winning poet and author Lucy Cuthew.
The final winners were announced in the afternoon, which saw two students from Sancton Wood walk away with first place: 10-year-old Benjamin Andrews was awarded joint-first prize in the Juniors category for his poem Gift Wrap at Christmas, whilst 12-year-old Kherlen Ho was awarded joint-first place in the Seniors category for Stories with Youthful Boys. The other winners were 11-year-old Georgina Wall, 13-year-old Isabella Davison, and 80-year-old Linda Woolfson. Benjamin, Georgina and Linda will go on to perform their poems with Gyles Brandreth on ITV’s This Morning on national television on Friday 11 November.
“We’re really pleased to be able to host this event for Duke’s Education and do our bit for the arts and for poetry,” commented Richard Settle, the principal of Sancton Wood School. “From my perspective as an English teacher, I really believe in the importance of poetry and its value to our students. I’ve spent 28 years teaching English literature and about the beauty and joy of poetry – but it’s one thing to analyse it and another to write and perform it.
“Initiatives like this that go beyond the classroom experience and allow children who are skilled at poetry to go for a national award and have their skills recognised are really valuable,” he adds. “I’m really proud that Sancton Wood could facilitate such an experience.”
To find out more about the importance of reciting poetry by heart and the origins of Poetry Together, check out our interview with Gyles Brandreth here.