Norwich High success at the 2024 GDST Creative Writing Prize

Posted on 3rd April 2024

Norwich High success at the 2024 GDST Creative Writing Prize

Two students from Norwich High School for Girls have been successful in the 2024 GDST Creative Writing Prize for which the theme was ‘Kindness’.

The competition entries were judged by children’s author and class of 2005 Notting and Ealing High School alumna, Ewa Jozefkowicz.

Norwich High School for Girls Year 2 pupil Dara Nasta won the youngest age category in the competition with her piece – Kindness senses. Judge Ewa said: “This poem was so joyous to read. I loved how kindness was conveyed through all the senses – and I really felt like I was sensing it all as I was reading.”

Kindness Senses, by Dara Nasta

If kindness had a taste, what might it be?
Perhaps honey melting in a cup of tea,
A remedy for Grandma’s sneeze.
Or hot cocoa with marshmallows, please
To change a sister’s frown with ease.

If kindness had a smell, what could it be?
Perhaps baked apples in a pie dish,
That I helped mum make in a rush.
Or the daffodils we planted in our garden
For all the bees and butterflies to see.

If kindness could be seen, what might it look like?
A girl’s smile at a bus stop
Waiting together in the rain
Or a big game of hide and seek
When everyone is invited to join in.

If kindness could sound like something, what would it be?
A “thank you” for showing me the way
When I am lost and cannot find it on my own
Or a “well-done” clap
For the challenge of writing this verse.

If kindness felt like something, what could it be?
Maybe like holding your hand when you’re feeling sad
Or like cuddling up to a pet
When it comes back from the vet.
In short, like being whole and never alone.

Norwich High School for Girls Year 7 student Verity Pearce was Highly Commended in the Year 7-9 category for her piece – An act of kindness. Judge Ewa said: “Beautiful piece of writing about the unexpected rescue of a lamb. Some wonderfully vivid descriptions of nature – I was totally engrossed. I would love to see this being developed into a longer piece of writing.”

An Act of Kindness, by Verity Pearce

The rain was potent as it fell in large drops from a dark, overcast sky. It stung the eyes of the young lamb harshly and with cruelty. The mud on the ground weighed heavily being thick and sloughy. Stealthily, the fox’s paws glided over the surface, leaving no trace of a footprint. Contrarily, the newborn slid and stumbled leaving jagged, deep hoof prints at every twist and turn. The end of the field was approaching like a dark veil over the sky. No bleating cry would call mother sheep from her eternal grave: for she too had been clutched in the void of darkness by the hand of this same pursuer.

The whiskered gentleman craved to finish the job and settle his gnawing and empty stomach. The fox’s golden brush was held high, his nose pointed up to the sky, fangs bared devilishly. The lamb, in its desperation, was caught in the spiked wire like a fly in a spider’s web. It scrambled and bleated, crying for the mercy of the master hunter. Meanwhile, the long teeth gleamed like daggers in the dim light. The timing was just right.

Suddenly, the fox saw the lamb’s large eyes like balls of light in the darkness. They were sorrowful and pleading. The eyes of those that had experienced only dejection and abandonment in life that God fearing men falsely claim to support. They were emblems of pure sadness. The lamb was suddenly silent and almost accepting of death, resigned to its fate on this terrible day. Its fragile body curled into the barbed wire awaiting the final blow that, thank the heavens, would never come. For those youthful, despondent eyes broke the fox’s hard, stone heart.

The rain continued to fall from the heavens relentlessly in a heavy torrent. The fox’s brush drooped. The rain water dripped from its once majestic display of russet fur. The Venetian tint, much admired by artists, was now dethroned to a deep, mud brown. Its black, velvet nose no longer shone with pride but was dull with despair. Was this the face that he saw at every massacre? The fox had never acknowledged such despair within his victims. The lamb seemed to be illuminated by an unfamiliar light which seemed to prevail in a heavenly form much like the Angel Gabriel had once appeared to the shepherds. The fox felt a sudden sense of unease which startled his actions.

He recalled the first hunt of the season: the whoops and jeers of men upon the thudding hooves of the large, well-bred horses. The baying, the terrible cries, of the hounds of death. He had lost many of those that he had loved and treasured to those bloodthirsty hounds. In many ways, he was not unlike those creatures: they hunted for pleasure and excitement, he for his own joy and good health. Never would he lock eyes upon a helpless and innocent creature in that manner again. He growled moderately under his breath. The evil that had once engulfed his heart and controlled his actions was no more. The stony heart was fractured and crumbled to a fine dust.

Gently, in his jowls he lifted the lamb from the wire. Blood oozed in small droplets from the scratches inflicted on the broken skin. The fox’s soft tongue first cleaned the damage carefully to ease the animal’s pain and enable the broken lamb to heal. He cradled the creature in his wide jaws dragging it through the mud to a place of safety. The lifeless lamb which the fox dragged through the oozing mud appeared to be a carcass in the grasp of a murderer. The lamb’s fine fleece was matted by the relentless rain and torrid mud. Despite this, in that moment, the fox cared for the lamb lovingly as though it had been a newborn cub.

The still air was broken by a chorus of cries and bleats which echoed from the flock as they bounced and scrambled across the wide field. The air was alive with static, nervous energy which engulfed the landscape. The fox moved slowly through the terrain oblivious to the force of the flock. He mused to himself of the great opportunity for the slaughter of such awkward, erratic beasts. Once again he surveyed the scene of frightened, trembling creatures who viewed him fearfully as a despised enemy. The fox settled the lamb with care on a dry patch of ground. It lay forlorn and exhausted gasping for air.

The fox turned from the lamb as its limbs moved chaotically in an attempt to stand. The flock leader, a large, round ewe, moved forward threatening the fox with its downcast eyes and heavy frame. At that, the fox stalked through the mud towards the cover of dense woodland on the horizon. It was essential that he made his way quickly before the surveillance guns were alerted and drawn towards his chestnut coat in the gloomy landscape. Although his pride was broken by the baying flock, his heart felt softened as he remembered the delicate form in the mud. The fox felt a certain overwhelming sense of peace at having helped the lamb to a place of sanctuary. The lamb had indeed been rescued from the claws of death and would now flourish and grow within the flock. As the fox continued upon the muddy path towards the towering trees a blister of watery light appeared in the grey, overcast sky.

“I hugely enjoyed judging these entries on the theme of kindness, and was impressed by the variety of genres and interpretations of the subject. I was blown away by the emotion in many of the pieces, and the level of writing was far beyond the age-range of the writers. I would encourage all entrants to work further on these pieces – perhaps developing them into short stories. The idea for my first published book actually came to me during a creative writing lesson at Notting Hill and Ealing High School. So it’s never too early to start!”

Children’s author and class of 2005 Notting and Ealing High School alumna, Ewa Jozefkowicz