Acton schoolchildren win nationwide short story competition

Image above: Winner and year 5 pupil Hannah-Mei Wang, winner and reception pupil Joey Everett

School “over the moon” to have not one but two winners

On Wednesday 24 May Daunt Books will host an awards ceremony at Ark Byron Primary School to honour the winners of their prestigious Short Story competition, two of whom are their own pupils.

This annual competition celebrates the remarkable creativity and writing talents of children across the country. Aspiring young writers between the ages of four and 15 took part in the competition, with the hope of having their stories published in a special anthology.

Jennifer Ong, the Librarian at Ark Byron Primary, told The Chiswick Calendar she was “over the moon” at having not one but two winners from Ark Byron Primary.

“I’m the librarian of the school and have just taken over the job this year,” Jennifer said, “so I thought it would be nice because I felt our school is very creative and our teachers are very dedicated in terms of their creative writing teaching.”

It was the first time the school participated, and their enthusiasm paid off.

“I thought it would be nice for the children to throw their hat in the ring. It was the first year we entered and we had two winners!” Jennifer added.

Images above: Ark Byron Primary School; Google Streetview

Ark Byron entrants beat top private schools around the country

Only a select few entrants win the competition every year, with only 12 winners from dozens of schools around the country in 2022. The winners’ stories are then compiled into a book that is sold in Daunt Bookshops.

The winners, Hannah-Mei Wang in year 5 and Joey Everett in year 1, were said to be “incredibly shocked and delighted” at the news their stories had won, considering they had to compete with many other schools around the country, whether they be private or state comprehensive.

“There’s lots of private schools entering, schools all over the country so you just don’t have a clear sense of what the other entries are going to be like. But I did have faith and believed in the creativity of our children, which is why I encourage children to enter because I thought it was really important”

The winners’ anthology, which showcases the selected stories, will feature a captivating cover designed by Marion Deuchars, an esteemed illustrator and author. Additionally, the anthology will be introduced by Katya Balen, the acclaimed writer of The Light in Everything and October, October, which won The Carnegie Medal.

All entries had to be submitted by an adult, such as a parent, guardian, or teacher, who could provide consent on behalf of the child. The stories were required to be entirely the original work of the young authors, with a maximum word limit of 1500. The submission deadline was set for January 31, 2023.

Jennifer said the school was overjoyed with Hannah-Mei’s victory, and their delight only multiplied when they discovered a week later that Joey had also secured a winning spot.

“We are a very diverse school with limited funds so it’s really wonderful to see the creativity of the children and the dedication of the teachers shine through” Jennifer added.