The 22nd annual Wills Writing Awards, for creative writing (fact or fiction) around a horseracing theme by a young person resident in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, attracted 140 entries in 2014 - the third highest ever total. Of these, 75 were in the under 26 category, 41 in the under 19 category, and 24 in the under 15 category.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the judges, says:
“Racing attracts people in many different ways and the charm of judging the Wills Writing Awards is to see what a new set of young people come up with. This year’s prizewinners show both originality and contrast. They are a splendid tribute to a competition that has now generated over twenty years of enthusiasm, creativity and exceptional new talent”.
The under 26 winner is 19 year old Laura McKibben from Macclesfield in Cheshire, who was on the under 19 shortlist at her first attempt last year. She is in her first year reading History and Sociology at Manchester University, having obtained AAAB in her A Levels at The Fallibroome Academy, Macclesfield. She receives £1,250 for her article, After I’m Gone, which Laura describes as “a story which follows the aftermath of a tragedy. It explores the ways in which a family comes to terms with grief and finds a way to move on through the power of horseracing. It is a story of loss, love and, ultimately, hope”.
The first under 26 joint runner-up is 19 year old Lara Prior-Palmer from Appleshaw, nr Andover in Hampshire. She is in her first year reading History and Arabic at Edinburgh University, having previously attended St Paul’s Girls’ School, London, where she obtained A*A*AB at A Level. In October 2013, she won the Mongol Derby, the longest horserace in the world, extending 1,000km through the Mongolian Steppe, riding 25 different unfamiliar semi-wild Mongolian horses. She receives £375 for her article, The Lion’s Share, “about Day 5 of the Mongol Derby, when I overtake the leader. By this point I am losing sanity, and horses, marmots and Mongolian hamsters alike have become my companions and entertainers. Essential to this piece is the conflict between human-constructed races and the horses that are unaware of them, making for a multi-dimensional experience”.
The second under 26 joint runner-up is 19 year old Lara Hopkins from Walkhampton, nr Tavistock in Devon. She is in her first year reading Law at ExeterUniversity, having previously attended TavistockCollege, where she achieved AAA in her A Levels. In her gap year, she spent some months working in Nick Williams’ National Hunt yard. At Exeter, she reports on sport for Exeposé, the University newspaper. She receives £375 for her article, Abandoned Desire. The author explains: “When writing this piece, I thought about the situation I may have ended up in if, like my mother, I had been inclined to marry at a young age rather than seeking independent means to fulfil my ambitions, as she has thankfully always encouraged me to do”.
The Under 19 winner is 16 year old Philip Weldon from Navan in Co. Meath, Ireland. He attends Belvedere College in Dublin, where he obtained seven As and three Bs in his Junior Certificate. He receives £500 for his article, The Double, “which shows the roller coaster nature of the racing world through the eyes of a schoolboy”.
The Under 19 runner-up is 17 year old Isabel Woodhouse from St Mary Bourne, nr Andover in Hampshire. She attends Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where she achieved six A*s and five As in her GCSEs. She receives £250 for The Re-Run, “which is told from the point of view of the son of a destitute gambler, who fritters away his money on horseracing. It touches on superstition, alcoholism and, ultimately, a dysfunctional father/son relationship”.
The Under 15 winner is 14 year old Fureya Nelson Riggott from Middlewich in Cheshire, where she is home educated by her mother. She is the four time recipient of a Rockstar Award for geology. She receives £250 for her article, Beach Race, in which “a girl who dreams of being a jockey fulfils her ambition when she races her friends on the beach”.
The Under 15 runner-up is 14 year old Lucas Coppin from Weston-super-Mare, Avon, where he attends Broadoak Mathematics and ComputingCollege. He receives £125 for his article, Priceless, which describes “an eventful race day from a young racegoer’s perspective: the enjoyment, the excitement, the experience”.
The winning articles will be published, in the next few weeks, in the Racing Post and The Irish Field. The Under 26 winner will also have the opportunity of: work experience at the Racing Post; a literary lunch with Jilly Cooper, author of numerous No.1 bestselling novels, and Brough Scott; and retaining for a year a bronze of two galloping horses.
The judges were: Brough Scott (Chairman), three times Sports Feature Writer of the Year and twice Racing Writer of the Year; Marcus Armytage, racing writer at The Daily Telegraph and Horse & Hound; Alastair Down, Racing Post journalist and three times Racing Writer of the Year; Chris Garibaldi, supremo of the Palace House National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, currently under construction; Nick Luck, Channel 4 racing presenter and five times Racing Broadcaster of the Year;Sean Magee, a versatile racing author and journalist, most recently of The Injured Jockeys Fund: Celebrating 50 Years 1964-2014; and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills, who is a D Phil art historian and a racehorse owner/breeder.
The prize-winning entries can be read on the website (www.willswritingawards.co.uk) under "The Winners" tab.
With Brough Scott making the speech and Jilly Cooper handing out the prizes, the presentation is being made at 12 noon on Wednesday 16 April in the Sponsors’ Lounge on the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket (the room being kindly made available by Jockey Club Racecourses).
The shortlist totaled 22 (13 under 26, six under 19 and three under 15), as follows:
Under 26 - Age at 1 Jan
Amy Banister - 24 - Tushingham, nr Whitchurch, Shropshire
Rachel Cawley - 25 - Newmarket, Suffolk
Lucy Elder - 23 - Maidenhead, Berkshire
James English - 19 - Carrick-on-Suir, Co.Tipperary
Lara Hopkins - 19 - Walkhampton, nr Tavistock, Devon
Harriet Jones - 19 - Buntingford, Hertfordshire
Laura McKibben - 19 - Macclesfield, Cheshire
Majella McParland - 20 - Camlough, Newry and Mourne
Orla Murphy - 22 - Upton, Co. Cork
Charles Nurick - 19 - Cleish, nr Kinross, Perth and Kinross
Shane O’Rourke - 25 - Navan, Co. Meath
George Perry - 22 - Steventon End, nr Saffron Walden, Essex
Lara Prior-Palmer - 19 - Appleshaw, nr Andover, Hants
Michael Andrews - 18 - Church Preen, nr Much Wenlock, Shropshire
Arabella Duncan - 17 - Wootton Rivers, nr Marlborough, Wiltshire
Frederick Henderson - 18 - Eaton, nr Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Sarah Houlihan - 17 - Clane, Co. Kildare
Philip Weldon - 17 - Navan, Co. Meath
Isabel Woodhouse - 16 - St Mary Bourne, nr Andover, Hampshire
Lucas Coppin - 14 - Weston-super-Mare, Avon
Isobel Harding-Perrott - 12 - Tytherleigh, nr Axminster, Devon
Fureya Nelson Riggott - 13 - Middlewich, Cheshire
The Wills Writing Awards commemorate Martin Wills, a journalist and amateur jockey who died in April 1992, aged 39. The Awards are organised by the Martin Wills Memorial Trust, a UK registered charity (number 1015017).
Liz Ampairee (Liz Ampairee PR)
Brough Scott (Chairman of the Judges and a Trustee)
Charles Ponsonby (Chairman of the Trustees)
01993-811 717 /07789-202 312
Andrew Kavanagh (a Trustee)
00 353-59 97 73 105
Please enter your email below to subscribe to our Newsletter where you will recieve information in every thing to do with the Martin Wills Writing Awards.