Norfolk’s third Young Laureate revealed
We are very pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition, and the identity of the third Young Norfolk Laureate.

We are very pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition, and the identity of the third Young Norfolk Laureate.

Announced at a special ceremony, the seven winners, ranging from 11 to 18 years old, were selected by judges from a pool of 200 entries from schools across the region.

They are:

  • Taryn Everdeen, 18
  • Otis Headon, 11
  • Will Forder, 16
  • Colette Maxwell-Preston, 12
  • Deborah McKeown, 16
  • Ruben Pope, 18
  • Mia Sharrock, 15

Colette Maxwell-Preston was also announced as the 2019 Young Norfolk Laureate. Over the coming year, she will encourage young people across the region to enjoy reading and writing, and will receive creative and professional development opportunities from NCW.

Colette said: ‘For the past eight months I have been writing a book and have nearly completed my first draft with just two chapters to go. I am sure that my position as Young Norfolk Laureate will help me to finish it.

‘My Laureateship gives me so many opportunities, but I would mostly like to use it as a way to educate people about climate change and how their actions both big and small have a significant impact on our beautiful planet. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me!’

Scroll down to read the winning entries for this year’s competition.

Winners of this year's Young Norfolk Writing Competition
Winners of this year’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition (c) Thom Law


SEE-THROUGH – Song Lyrics

Taryn Everdeen, 18

Not a fan of playing games
‘Cause I’ve watched them played
Too many times before.
I don’t wanna name names
‘Cause I’ve forgotten all the words
That left my tongue.
I don’t know what to say
‘Cause I’m trying too hard
Just to be someone.
I don’t wanna play games,
But I’m missing out
On all the fun.

And I feel so

Can you see you?
In the light
That’s in my eyes?
I didn’t mean to
Be so see-through.
Do you mind?
Is it alright?
‘Cause I think it might.

I was feeling too safe,
So I pushed myself into
The waves.
Thought that I could swim,
But the current was too strong,
It pulled me in.
Didn’t know what to do
When I felt myself lose
My connection with you.
Watching it all fall through,
Losing where
I thought I stood

Now I feel so

Can you see you?
In the light
That’s in my eyes?
I didn’t mean to
Be so see-through.
Do you mind?
Is it alright?
‘Cause I think it might.

“So let’s be honest,” I said.
“I’ll tell you what’s going
On in my head.”
So you waited.
And you listened while I said:

I feel so
Can you see you?
In the light
That’s in my eyes?
I didn’t mean to
Be so see-through.
Do you mind?
Is it alright?
‘Cause I think it might

Not be alright
Warning signs
I feel blind
It might not be fine
Did you change your mind
About me?

Now that you see


Baba Black Sheep: Do You Have Any Wool?

Otis Headon, 11

Dear Baa Baa,
Help! I’m desperate for more wool! Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them. She’s not even looking for them – REALLY… I can’t quite believe she thinks they’ll just come home wagging their tails behind them! In the meantime I’m left high and dry with not an ounce of wool! I’ve got a massive order for jumpers, vests, pants and socks from the old gal that lives in the shoe. If you can’t help me goodness knows what I’ll do!
The Farmer (In the Dell)

Dear Farmer,
No mate, none at all! I was shorn last week when it was chilly, and now I’m looking pretty silly! My skin is hardly covered. You could say I’m bare like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
My toasty warm wool is now six new mittens. I hope they don’t lose them, those forgetful kittens.
Little Miss Muffet made a woolly cushion for her tuffet. Her bot is now comfy, or so I’ve been told, so at least someone’s happy even if I’m freezing cold.
Wee Willie Winkie, the crazy young man, has a new knitted hat from his loving old Gran. So, his noggin should be warm as he dashes about town – upstairs and downstairs in that unseemly nightgown!
Miss Polly made a blanket for her dolly and put her straight to bed – if you ask me the doctor needs glasses if he thinks she’s really ill. Perhaps he’s the one that needs a pill!
The last of my wool was used to line the boat for the Owl and the Pussy cat as away they float. I pray they don’t end their days sinking beneath those briny waves – but if they do, they’ll go in style; lying on my woolly pile.
Just a thought which springs to mind, Mary has a lamb, with fleece as white as snow. She may be in the market to sell, you really never know. Phone her now and try to strike a deal. Maybe you could convince her over a delicious meal – perhaps ten fat sausages sizzling in a pan? Come on, Farmer, you know you can!
It’s funny that I’m in such high demand – the Dame has been badgering me and the little boy down the lane. I know they’re searching for wool, just like you, so get to the little lamb before they do.
If Mary won’t sell, you’ll have to knock on Old Mac’s door. See if he can lend you a sheep to shear. The farm isn’t far it’s quite close to here. Better still, find those missing sheep. I’ve heard they’ve been wandering for over a week! Bo Peep really doesn’t have a clue. I’m sure you’ll find them if I know you!
Good luck in your quest for that elusive fleece, now please can I have a little peace…
Baa Baa
p.s. I’m cold. Ask Polly to put the kettle on!



Will Forder, 16

A dozen blackbirds in the rapids of westerly winds
A robin blowing east towards a blinding sight
Both know where they are going
Neither know quite why

A man walks on a gravel road
Fresh tar seeping into the cracks of his boots
They won’t last the winter
Or the day
Or the hour

A little girl draws a bluebell
in the backseat of a car:
accelerating rapidly
across a newly paved ground

The driver looks up at the lonely robin
and the man watches the blackbirds fly by
A paper-thin flower falls
And lands
In amongst a thousand more


Golden Ink

Colette Maxwell-Preston, 12

The candle was dimming and its scent was drifting through the small cracks in the window; outside into the cool atmosphere above all the tall mountains reaching their majestic peaks into the sky. Old Father Time stood contentedly in his room, one hand grasping a stack of yellowing paper, the other clutching onto a stumpy cigar. The smoke engulfed him and was indistinguishable from the pewter-grey mass that the candle emitted.

“Mother Nature, ” he hollered, spluttering on the smoke. “Come here now!” Old Father Time twisted his sable-black moustache frustratedly. “Always late, never punctual,” he thought, drumming his shoe on the floor impatiently.

He continued to wait in a disgruntled manner, but it did not take long for Old Father Time’s vexation to boil over. “Hurry up will you, bumbling fool!” He bellowed. Just when he thought such matters could not worsen, his umber eyes were drawn to the window, which looked out upon his timid wife, Mother Nature, under a rowan tree.

“My husband shan’t find us here! After all-” a patch of mud caught her attention, and she forgot all about the brick-red cluster of rowan berries she was holding. “Animal tracks!” She could scarcely breathe in such intense excitement, and dropped her whicker basket, containing a few crystals, and crawled along the ground, a strong earthy smell pervading her nostrils. The tracks were that of a finch, easily distinguished by the single hind toe and its slimness. They carried on into a juniper-green mulberry bush, but Mother Nature was too tender-hearted to disturb the little creature. She smiled blissfully to herself, then added a mountain ash leaf to her basket and trotted off, not knowing of the argument awaiting her.

“…and I won’t even dare to ask why you were talking to holly berries-”
“Well, they were rowan berries, but-”
“Oh, and yes ‘my husband shan’t find us here’- the sheer cheek of it!” Mother Nature sighed, and tucked a grey wisp of hair behind her ear.
“I’ll clean the typewriter.” She squeaked agitatedly. Petulance did a jig in his eyes.
“Do it properly for
once!” And with that, Old Father Time downed the last of his whiskey and his wife scurried off nervously through the lonely corridors and into the basement.

The typewriter that Old Father Time had mentioned was none other than the Reges 99: the first- and only- model. It had keys made from tufts of wayward cloud, and they hovered peacefully in their place. The platen was made from jet, but was worn from frequent use and had begun to sport scratch marks. She hurriedly began polishing the carriage, making sure that it shone brighter than light itself.

It was midnight by the time Mother Nature had finished cleaning the Reges 99, and it was at such a time that an idea popped into her weary mind. Her silver eyes darted towards the colour-changing lever on the typewriter. You see, the Reges 99 was no ordinary typewriter, for it controlled the happenings of our world, and it was up to Old Father Time to provide events for his ‘precious’ humans. However, he had recently fallen out with them, and- when walking by her husband’s desk- Mother Nature had caught a glimpse of his mischief. Chaos had reigned over Earth: pollution; Brexit and so many other unthinkable occurances.

She peered about her through the gloom, making sure that her husband was nowhere to be seen, then swiftly changed the colour of the ink from a deep red to a majestic gold. Gold was the forbidden colour, and above it Old Father Time had scribbled ‘Only to be used in the case of an emergency!’. “Well now is an emergency!” She whispered, and began to type. Mother Nature smiled to herself, for gold meant something that the world lacked: hope!


Deborah McKeown, 16

Before this story begins, I think it’s worth a quick overview of our contes-I mean characters. First off, we have Christian-a 42 year old fedora tipping atheist from Louisiana who says cool things such as “I’m a sceptic.” or “where’s your f***ing evidence?” all expressed via twitter. He however finds issues with this format of communication as his beard gets in the way of his keyboard. He prefers this to communication with humans in person, since he is a socially inept woman-hating neckbeard after all. If he does talk in person, he speaks in a low pitched radio voice. If he’s not wearing his fedora, he’ll tip yours for you.

Next up is Rob. He’s 32 from Birmingham and ‘e ‘ates gays. He enjoys a pint down the bar with his mates Pete and Glen. His current qualifications consist of two parking fines, a BTEC in PE and no GCSEs. Men of his nature can be spotted relatively easily shouting abuse at passersby in his stomach-churningly chav-tastic car on his way to a Jeremy Kyle audition. What can one say?

Our next individual has chosen to remain anonymous, so we’ll just call her Shirley. Shirley is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. That should tell you everything.

Janet is a 25 year old Tumblr user from Los Angeles. A little-known fact as Tumblr users of her variety are almost entirely composed of an element known as Triggurium-though fictional, was famously discovered by a feminist laboratory. Janet is an ambidextrous, pansexual, multidimensional, visceral, transparent meme and if you misgender Janet or mistakenly use the improper pronouns you will be sentenced to capital punishment or an hour of social justice slam poetry. Take your pick. She currently lives in fear of the all-seeing omnipotent patriarchy and so feels that sporting things such as unnaturally dyed, short hair and with a multitude of metal coming from the majority of her facial orifices will protect her like garlic from vampires.

The group of four bold or not so much participa-I mean individuals were plopped onto a desolate plane which reeked of nothingness until Christian the neckbeard entered. Next came Rob, arms crossed and wearing an Adidas tracksuit which executed an odour which can only be described as a mixture of LYNX body spray and fags – cigarettes, of course – he coudn’t possibly contribute to such a health risk.

“Yeah well, not being funny bu-” – Rob was disoriented to say the least. He was in the middle of a very educated political discussion about Brexit, as you could probably tell, and he was interrupted by the force of..I don’t know. Christian sat in silence with his arms crossed and brow knitted downwards like an angry child. He knew this would happen. How dare the big Christian boys up in the sky dictate his afterlife. What a swizz. Next up, Shirley entered. She was asleep. Thank G-d. NO one likes Shirley. She must have been having a nightmare about being disposed of into the fire-y pits of hell.

Last but certainly not least, the all powerful left-handed, kettlesexual, one-dimensional, intellectual opaque inside-joke-kin. Janet. We LOVE Janet. She-THEY, sorry, always felt the need to educate these disgusting plebs about the infinite number of genders and pronouns and how debilitating it is for men to open their legs on subway trains.

At this point, we can all tell that Rob is a man of mystery. We look at him and think, well, what’s cookin’ up in that cranium? Nothin’. His blank expression appeared to evolve over the course of Janet’s TED-Talk-esque introduction until it took the appearance of a squashed plum. Honey, purple does not go with that tracksuit. He would look SO fierce if he wasn’t so frustrated.


Stereotype of Me – Song Lyrics

Ruben Pope, 18

Oh have I, have I lost myself?
Because I don’t think I identify with me
Over time I’ve become
A stereotype of me
And now I’m done conforming
To things you say we’re supposed to be

Now I’ve lighter hair
Do you notice I’m still there
Enlighten up my air

You say the things I wear,
They don’t pair to
Societal expectations of me
Do you think I care
I’m only trying to define me

So have I, have I lost myself?
Because I don’t think I identify with me
Over time I think that I’ve become a stereotype of me
And now I’m done conforming to things
You say we’re supposed to be

Well now I would like to set me free
Liberate me from things you say I’m supposed to be
Because I have tried your version of me
And now I decide my own stereotype of me


The Invisible Man

Mia Sharrock, 15

Winter is unforgiving when you have no home. The man was sitting on the steps swathed in darkness, the solitary nickel in his cap scarcely visible. His frayed sweater was far too thin for a bitter New York night and although his hands were wrapped in a scarf, his fingers were numb with cold. As he sighed, his breath condensed in the icy air and through the haze he could just catch the outline of the movie theatre opposite him. The steps facing ‘The Majestic’ had long since been his favourite bed; he thought of the building’s Art Deco detailing as his own personal wallpaper and was convinced that the neon sign above the entrance blinked just for him. He had never been inside the theatre, but the outside was his own and sometimes he imagined laughing at a line in a movie with someone who knew his name. But no one knew his name. No one seemed to notice him. The men and women who trudged by went to great lengths to avoid his gaze, their eyes fixed resolutely ahead of them, and children were steered away by anxious mothers who scowled at him as they passed.

The shadows lying across the steps suddenly fractured as a piercing light penetrated the gloom and the air thickened with chatter. The doors of the movie theatre had opened. Fleetingly, he met the eyes of the usherette, deadened by apathy, before a swarm of theatre goers pushed her aside, paying her no more attention than he was used to receiving. They flocked onto the sidewalk before dispersing, advancing in all directions, discussing the movie they had just seen. As groups passed, he caught snatches of conversation:

‘Yeah, we must tell Carl about it, his little Lonnie would have loved the scene with the cigarette on the bicycle’.

‘Gee, he was quite monstrous by the end, don’t you think?’.

‘Do you think that could happen in real life? Could someone make themselves invisible?’

But still no one noticed him.

Gradually the tide of people ebbed, until only one remained.

Walter Calverdere enlisted both a ruler and a comb to part his hair each day. He insisted that his newspaper be ironed before and after reading. He was a man of principle. His son attended the most expensive school in the state and his wife wore only diamond earrings. He was a prosperous man. When he saw the man sitting on the steps he could not stand by. The man’s face was filthy, his hair dishevelled and his stubby fingers were only partially concealed by a threadbare scarf. What business could such a man have by the cinema? And then he noticed the cap. And the coin residing within it. Mr Calvedere’s jaw clenched. He had to do something.

The man of principle advanced towards the man who had nothing. He stretched his gloved hand out to the cap, closing his fingers tightly around the nickel. And flung it across the street.

‘Get out of my way you filthy piece of trash. Goddammit, you can’t move these days without tripping over people like you. I mean, take a look at yourself……’

And so it went on. And on. And on. Until there seemed to be nothing more to say and no more breath to say it with. The street was silent again.

The man with nothing was left with even less than before. He seized his cap and held it close to him, the fabric rough against his skin. Around him, the street was a picture of wealth and privilege, the opulent theatre dripping with money and its customers stuffed full of Hollywood dreams.

Briefly the door of the theatre opened again, then shut, and the man raised his eyes.

The usherette was seated on the step next to him, less than a meter away.

‘I think this belongs to you.’

As he met her gaze for the second time, she pressed the lost nickel into his palm. He felt a strange sense of warmth; he had been seen.

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