Sir Mark Prescott, who is presenting the prizes
The 23rd 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 55 entries. Of these, 30 were in the under 26 category, 16 in the under 19 category, and nine in the under 15 category.
Brough Scott, Chairman of the judges, says:
“Words will always be important in racing and the way the winners use them was both an inspiration and a further justification for the Wills Writing Awards. In particular, the overall winner, Fiona Sherlock, set the standard which was as high as it was enviable.”
For the second successive year, in the under 26 category there was a tie for runner up and all the prize winners were female.
The under 26 winner is Fiona Sherlock, originally from Navan in Co. Meath but now resident in Dublin. Graduating from Dublin City University with a 2.1 in Journalism, she worked as a freelance journalist for various publications including Dubliner Magazine, Hot Press and The Sunday Independent. Fiona then moved into public relations and is employed as a consultant by Heneghan PR in Dublin. Earlier this year, she completed her first novel, Queen of the Land, for which she is seeking a publisher. Her blog on luxury living, www.DiaryofDionysus.com, was shortlisted for a number of blog awards in Ireland. Fiona receives £1,000 for her article A Toddler and the Grand National, of which she observes: “The Grand National is something that seems to have always been there, like a second cousin you see once a year. A Toddler and the Grand National delves into my nostalgic first memory of the race. This sentimental yearning for the past is juxtaposed with the changes to the spectator experience that have happened in my relatively short life”.
The first under 26 runner up is 24 year old Jessica Crandon, originally from Wokingham in Berkshire but now resident in Bristol. She secured AAA in English, History and Psychology A Levels at The Holt School, Wokingham and a 2.1 in English Literature at Exeter University. She is employed as a copywriter and editor for a creative agency in Bristol. Jessica receives £250 for her story, The Home Straight, which in her words: “Is about hope and home. It follows a young man during World War One, and the way he finds optimism through remembering his roots and his racing career”.
The second under 26 runner up is 20 year old Lara Hopkins from Walkhampton, nr Tavistock in Devon, who was also a runner up last year. She is in her second year at Exeter University, reading Law and International Studies. Previously, she attended Tavistock College, where she achieved AAA in History, Law and Maths A Levels. She was in the Cornish junior show jumping team. At Exeter, she is in the novice polo team and reports on sport for Exeposé, the University newspaper. She receives £250 for her article, Forever a Gambler. Lara says: “Without my father’s encouragement and backing, I would never have had such an involvement with horses. My story is based on my earliest racing memory and the support my father has always given me”.
The under 19 winner is 17 year old Charlie Chamberlayne from Souldrop, nr Bedford. He attends Uppingham School in Rutland, where he is studying for AS Levels in Biology, Economics, Geography and Maths, having obtained 11 GCSEs (4A*, 6A, 1B). He receives £500 for his article, Morning Exercise. Charlie explains: “The piece is intended to draw out the contrast between the quiet still morning before people and horses are awake, with the action and vigour exhibited by the scene on the gallops. When quiet returns, it’s different this time because the feeling of power remains and there is left a sense of awe”.
The under 19 runner up is 17 year old Freddie Payne from Hailsham in East Sussex. He attends Hailsham Community College, where he is studying for AS Levels in English Literature, Further Maths, Maths and Physics, having obtained 11 GCSEs (6A*, 4A, 1B). He receives £250 for Golden Gun. Freddie says: “I wanted to show how important it is for horse owners to look after their horses; I believe that the welfare of horse should be put before winning the race”.
The small entry for the under 15 category included nothing of normal prize-winning standard. Accordingly, no prize is being awarded. Instead, all entrants receive a book token for £25/€30.
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 and of retaining for a year a bronze of two galloping horses.
The inaugural under 26 @WillsAwards racing tweet competition, on a non-fictional subject connected to racing, attracted 27 entries. The winner was 22 year old Jamie Young from London, where he works in marketing and communications for a Lloyd’s underwriter. Previously, he obtained a 2.1 in History at King’s College, London and was awarded AAA in English, History and Sport A Levels at The Charter School in Dulwich. His entry was “All was fine and dandy. Three out; a Clip, Knuckle, Thud. Stay away from riding lad. I can’t, it’s in my blood”.
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; Oli Bell, one of the main presenters with Racing UK; Sophia Brudenell, Communications Manager for the South West Region of Jockey Club Racecourses; William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse; Sean Magee, a versatile author and journalist; Peter Thomas, a senior features writer for the Racing Post; and Catherine Wills, sister of Martin Wills, who is a DPhil 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 delivering the eulogy and Mark Prescott saying a few words before handing out the prizes, the presentation is being made at 12 noon today, Wednesday 15 April, in the Limekilns Room on the Rowley Mile Course, Newmarket (the room being kindly made available by Jockey Club Racecourses).
The shortlist totalled 18 (12 under 26, six under 19), as follows:
Charlie Atkin, 23, London
Matt Butler, 20, Basingstoke, Hampshire
Clare Carter, 25, Southampton, Hampshire
Martin Chinn, 21, Coventry, Warwickshire
Jessica Crandon, 23, Bristol, Avon
Lara Hopkins, 20, Walkhampton, nr Tavistock, Devon
Orla Murphy, 23, Upton, Co. Cork
Liam Mungovan, 23, Ennis, Co. Clare
Kevin O’Shea, 19, Mallow, Co. Cork
Fiona Sherlock, 25, Dublin
Helen Swire, 25, London
Charlotte Thornton, 20, Mount Bures, nr Sudbury, Suffolk
Charlie Chamberlayne, 17, Souldrop, nr Bedford, Bedfordshire
Michael Drowne, 17, Beaminster, nr Bovey Tracey, Devon
Sarah Houlihan, 18, Clane, Co. Kildare
Ruairi O’Gallchoir, 17, Cork, Co. Cork
Freddie Payne, 17, Hailsham, East Sussex
Lewis Piper, 16, Chudleigh, nr Okehampton, Devon
The shortlist for the tweeting competition was Robbie Fahy, Ben Fearnley, Jonny Gatenby, Gráinne Hawkes, Fureya Nelson Riggott, Charles Nurick, Lewis Piper, James Ringland, Fiona Sherlock and Jamie Young.
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
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