The Wokingham Paper

Winnersh schoolgirl’s got a winning way with words

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A SCHOOLGIRL from Winnersh has fought off competition from more than 10,000 children to be named runner-up in a national writing competition.

Sophie Aleksina, nine, impressed judges of the National Young Writers’ Awards with her story The Rose about Dr Wilfred West who designs a time machine and travels a thousand years into the future, only to stumble upon a very dangerous set of circumstances.

The competition, organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning, is now in its ninth year and inspired thousands of children to create a story set 1,000 years in the future.

Just ten children’s stories were selected to be the national runners up after being crowned a regional winner last month.

The overall winner will be selected by this year’s judge, TV presenter, adventurer and author, Steve Backshall, who will surprise them with a school assembly last week.

Together with the team from Explore Learning, he will present them with a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for them and their family and £500 worth of books for their school.

As a runner-up, Sophie was given an engraved pen from Sheaffer, as well as goodies from partners, Nu notebooks, Mustard, Maped Helix, Write Size, Manuscript and Stabilo.

Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning said: “The year’s National Young Writers’ Awards attracted so many entries and to make it to the top 10 in the country is really something to be proud of!

“We have been absolutely blown away with the amazingly creative, thoughtful and inventive stories that children have written and we hope that being named a runner up will inspire Sophie to continue writing as one day they may well be the JK Rowling or Steve Backshall of the future!”

As well as being a popular children’s TV presenter and adventurer, Steve is the author of The Falcon Chronicles, a hugely popular adventure fiction series for nine- to 12-year-olds. They follow eco-warriors, Saker and Sinter, around the globe as they fight to save endangered animals and includes Shark Seas, Tiger Wars, Wilds of the Wolf and Ghosts of the Forest.

Steve Backshall says: “The quality of the stories was beyond belief! If I didn’t know this was a competition for young writers, I’d believe I was reading the scribblings of Isaac Asimov or Philip K Dick, and while there were elements from the great works of science fiction, every story was original, and had its own sense of individuality.

“What astounded me more than anything was that these young people had not only imagined future worlds, but imbued them with the conundrums of our modern planet.”

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