A 12 year old from Barking has been crowned the winner of the National Young Writers’ Awards. David Williams’ story about a robot in 3017 triumphed over 10,000 entries from all across the UK. Author, TV presenter and adventurer, Steve Backshall surprised David with his prize at his school to mark the tremendous achievement. The special presentation assembly took place on Tuesday 20th June at All Saints Catholic School in Dagenham.
The annual competition is organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning and this year’s theme was ‘The Future’. Children were tasked with writing a 500 word story set in 3017! Entries were judged by Steve Backshall and the team at Explore Learning who selected David’s futuristic tale as the overall winning story and awarded him a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for his family and £500 worth of books for his school!
Robots were overwhelmingly the most popular characters in this year’s entries and appeared in almost a third of the young writers’ stories (31%), whilst teleportation, rockets and jets were the common modes of transport. Meanwhile, planet earth was the most popular location, followed by the Moon and Mars.
It was David’s story though that came out on top – a tale of a robot who wants to be accepted by the world and explore.
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, 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; pollution, greed, climate-change, the disturbing dark potential of Ai and genetic modification. It gives me great hope that our young people are aware and concerned about these critical issues, and writing with such extraordinary maturity.
“I had to choose the piece that stood out as the most publishable. David’s tale of the awakening of consciousness in a sentient robot was the most complete of all. It stayed with me and had me imagining a whole dystopian world. David Williams, I expect I will be seeing your work in my local bookstore before too long in the post-apocalyptic future!”
Winner, David Williams says: “I feel so happy. Winning the National Young Writers’ Awards is one of the things that’ll help me prepare to be an author. I can’t believe I have accomplished it, I’ve written something worth reading!”
Every child that entered the National Young Writers’ Award received a certificate to celebrate their story, along with personalised feedback from Explore Learning. The top ten runners up also won an engraved pen from National Stationery Week sponsors, Sheaffer, whilst all regional winners received prize bundles with goodies from National Stationery Week partners, Nu notebooks, Mustard, edding, Maped Helix, Write Size, Manuscript and Stabilo.
Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum Development at Explore Learning says: “This year’s National Young Writers’ Awards attracted so many entries and all were thoughtful and inventive. We were especially thrilled to see so many children demonstrate their interest in such important matters concerning the future. It’s so positive to see not only great writing ability but also that children are engaging with key environmental issues and politics. A huge congratulations to our worthy winner David for his very intriguing interpretation of 3017!”
Clare Cantle, Head Teacher at All Saints Catholic School says: “We are all incredibly proud of David’s outstanding achievement. To win a competition with 10,000 entries is such a fantastic recognition of his talents in writing. I am sure we will be reading much more of his work in the future.”
By David Williams, age 12
I didn’t start out as much. I was just a pile of scrap metal in a junkyard. This was the first part of my life. And it stayed like this for many years. However, around 3017,a young man came along and decided to construct a robot. And that robot was yours truly. I have to admit, my creator was indeed a genius, worthy of even Einstein. Even though the parts he created me with weren’t top quality, I was the most advanced of my kind. I even developed human emotions, which was what set me apart from other robots. For a while, life was bliss. Until my creator became demented…
Yes, my inventor had become insane. Thanks to my newly developed emotions, I felt a certain amount of sorrow for him and his family. My sorrow turned to hatred, though, for his dementia meant I was confined to a life in a dusty lab which was more pedestrian than a rock. That lab was my prison. I longed to go out into the World and explore. I wanted to see global works of ultra – modern architecture. I wanted to indulge myself with human culture and great works of literature. That was going to be hard, considering the fact that humans would’ve feared my appearance (my creator was a terrible designer). Since I dreaded my mundane life, I started constructing an escape plan.
Today’s the day I put my escape plan to action. It was simple yet fool proof. For many months, during the lab’s closed hours, I’d been creating an artificial skin for me to wear, so I’d resemble one of the staff. And I have to admit, my handiwork wasn’t too bad. Well, here goes nothing…So far so good. I’d managed to fool every scientist in this establishment. I was at the main entrance. Freedom was a few steps away for me. Unfortunately, my costume had a loose thread. Which therefore meant my disguise came loose. Everybody could see me for what I really was. So I ran outside. As soon as I was in broad daylight, some people fainted, shrieked or ran. But I took no notice, for I was mesmerised by what I saw: hovercars gliding gracefully and towering skyscrapers, with their peaks touching the fluffy clouds. It was true beautiful. However, I didn’t enjoy it long. Security guards were in pursuit of me. Luckily, I ran down an ally and dived into a bin. When I peeked out, they’d vanished. Suddenly, the bin started to shake. My audio receptors detected groaning and creaking. I was thrown into a dark space. Then I realised I was in a garbage truck. Which meant that I’d be compressed. I felt the walls closing in on me. My robotic strength meant that I could use my arms to stop the walls crushing me. But not forever…