Winners announced for the second WICKED YOUNG WRITERS' AWARD

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award today announced its winners for 2011 at a prestigious ceremony hosted by Michael Morpurgo, best-selling author of War Horse and Chair Judge of the Award. The ceremony was also attended by Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of the hit musical Wicked, and Patron of the Award, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The winning entrants had their stories performed by cast members at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical. The winners were revealed as: Yetunde Lanlehin, age 6 from London, Josie Reynolds, age 10 from Gwent, Louisa Cowell, age 13 from Chester, joint-winners Tariq Williams, age 14 from London, and Lauren Palmer, age 16 from Falkirk, and Naomi Lever, age 25, from Newcastle.

The long-running West End show launched the Award in 2010 to recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity and help develop writing talent in young people between 5 and 25 years of age from across all backgrounds and areas of the UK. The judges for this year’s award included William Fiennes, author and founder of literacy charity First Story, Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of Wicked, and former Children’s Laureate and author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo.

Michael Morpurgo commented: “As judges and writers we were struck by the high standard of the entries, but this year particularly among the older age-categories. Writers need to feel that what they have to say is important, and we were delighted to read so many pieces of writing that were so obviously close to the writer’s own experience and voice. There is such a pleasure in hearing the author’s voice come through the writing. All these winning pieces of writing were originally, expressed and deeply felt.”

Wicked’s Executive Producer Michael McCabe said: “Wicked is ultimately the story of a young person finding the confidence to freely express and stand up for oneself, so it has been hugely rewarding to have had so many young people across the country engage with these values through the Wicked Young Writers’ Award.”

Judges chose six winners from thousands of entries, with 45% boys and 55% girls entering the Award. The most popular topics across all age groups surrounded themes such as family issues, friendship and relationships, as well as conflict and terrorism. The shortlisted finalist entries from the 5-16 year old age categories have been published in an anthology celebrating the 2011 Wicked Young Writers’ Award, sponsored by publisher Headline. Due to their more adult content, the shortlisted entries from the 17-25 year old age category have been published in an e-anthology downloadable from the Wicked Young Writers’ Award website.

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award has been working with the independent literacy charity, the National Literacy Trust. It is delighted to announce that in 2012 it will broaden this partnership to include joint events at literary festivals and conferences to highlight both reading and writing skills amongst young people. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of the National Literacy Trust.

Entries for the 2012 Wicked Young Writers’ Award are now open.