A county-wide competition in which children were invited to write about their chosen heroes culminated in a scintillating awards ceremony.

The Kent Big Writing Challenge has been organized and promoted by KCC’s Reconnect program in conjunction with the KM Charity team.

Children’s author Nick Butterworth and Cllr. Mrs Anne Dekker, Lord Mayor of Canterbury, presents the prizes to the winners of KS1.

Award-winning children’s author Nick Butterworth, the man behind the Percy the Park Keeper books, was among guests at the awards ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge where winners received a framed certificate and commemorative book. The overall champions received a specially designed glass trophy.

The competition was open to children and young people who live or go to school in Kent and was split into three different age categories: Key Stage 1 (years one and two primary), Key Stage 2 (years three- six, primary) and key stages 3 and 4 (grades 7 to 11, secondary).

All category winners received a framed certificate and printed book that included all winning entries and their designs, while overall winners received a specially designed glass trophy.

The winner of the first stage was Mae Harling from Shoreham Village School, Sevenoaks, who cast her cousin Evie as the heroine. The winner of the second key stage was Lucy Hartridge from Sandling Primary School, maidstone, whose hero was Olympic skateboarder Sky Brown. The winner of stages three and four was Heela Habib from Valley Park School, Maidstone, who wrote about Allah as her hero.

Shellina Prendergast, KCC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “I wanted as many children in Kent as possible to take up this challenge and I was delighted with the response and the quality of so many of nominations.

“The competition was intended to encourage a positive relationship with literacy and is an opportunity to showcase children’s creativity, and I’m sure it achieved those goals.

Reconnect Program Director David Adams and Kent 2nd Lieutenant Kate Fenwick present the KS2 Awards

“I hope this will become an annual creative writing competition for children and young people.”

Mike Ward, CEO of KM Charity Team, said: “This was our first time running Kent’s Big Writing Challenge and we are very grateful for the support of the KCC Reconnect program for its funding.

“The hardest part was picking the winners. The best part was the great diversity of who our young people see as heroes. There were plenty of mums and dads, key workers – including a Tesco security guard who made one of our winners smile.

Author and illustrator Nick Butterworth in a creative mood

“We really hope it happens again next year so we are working hard to get sponsorship because the results have been so important for so many children and young people.”

THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS

FIRST KEY STEP

Mae Harling from Shoreham Village School, Sevenoaks; Peter Kelly of the Hunting School; Elmira Williams of Kingsnorth Primary School; Keira Barnden of Oaks Community Infant School, Swale; Amiyah McKenzie of Herne Infant School; Molly Bowler from Herne Infant School; Joshua King of Sandling Primary School, Maidstone; Olivia Barton of Oaks Community Infant School, Swale; Arabella Beattie from Challock Primary School; Arslan Kabilov from Hextable Elementary School; and Ruby Wilson from Kingsnorth Primary School.

SECOND KEY STEP

Thomas Norris of Challock Primary, Ashford; Seth Player of St John’s CEP School, Canterbury; Lucy Hartridge from Sandling Primary School, Maidstone; Grace Harris from Woodlands Primary School, Tonbridge; Dylan Rhodes from Ethelbert Road Primary School, Canterbury; Claudia Whitman of St Margaret’s at Cliffe Primary School, Dover; Lydia Heslop from St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School, Hythe; Inara Nijjer from Culverstone Green Primary School, Gravesham

Hazel O’Hara of Hextable Elementary School; Poppy Milton of St John’s Primary School, Sevenoaks; Charlie Butcher of Chartfield School, Thanet; Edie Hendley of Paddock Wood Primary Academy; and Zachary Highfield from St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Swale.

KEY STEPS THREE AND FOUR

Bert Davis of Valley Park School, Maidstone; Chloe Asia Russell of Dover College; Heela Habib of Valley Park School, Maidstone; Isaac Differ-Mote of Cross Keys Learning, Thanet; Isabella Hirlemann-Garcia of St Anselm’s Catholic School, Canterbury; Jashwiny Selvarajan of Wilmington Academy, Dartford; Lawrence Johnson of St George’s Foundation School, Thanet; Ria Nair of Tonbridge Grammar School; Shakira Weeks from the Sittingbourne School; William Featherstone of Valley Park School, Maidstone; and Joe Fairclough of Dover College.

The Reconnect program funded the competition while the KM Charity team handled the logistics, including creating the webpage and submission portal, sorting out the judging panel, and the awards process and organization.

KCC’s Reconnect program was established in April 2021 in an attempt to reconnect children and young people with activities and opportunities they had missed during the Covid-19 pandemic.