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Neil Gunn Writing Competition Winners 2009

22nd June 2009

Photograph of Neil Gunn Writing Competition Winners 2009

Winners of The Highland Council's Neil Gunn writing competition 2009 were announced on Tuesday 23 June 2009 at a prize-giving ceremony held at Inverness Town House.

Organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture and Sport Service in partnership with the Neil Gunn Memorial Trust, this was the 10th anniversary of the popular competiton which attracted entries from Finland, France, Brazil, America, Canada, Wales, England and Scotland.

To mark Scotland Homecoming 2009, the theme this year was 'Living with One Another' taken from a passage from The Serpent by Neil Gunn. The primary and secondary categories were open to Highland P5, 6 & 7 and S4 to S6 pupils while the adult prose and poetry categories were thrown open to people across the world.

All scripts were submitted anonymously to the judging panel, which was chaired by Scottish author James Robertson and included Poet Jon Miller and Colin Ferguson, Alison Wilkie and Ann Yule from the Neil Gunn Trust.
The Primary and Secondary sections were sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Simon Thomas from North Kessock picked up the top Primary prize with Robbie Fairweather Graham from Applecross Primary School and Ruby Partridge from Broadford Primary sharing the second prize.

First prize in the Secondary section was awarded to Beth O'Connell from Thurso High School. Second prize went to Neil Henderson from Thurso High School and the third prize went to Isabella Claydon from Gairloch High School.
On reviewing the secondary school entries, the Neil Gunn Trust decided to give a special award of book tokens to Thurso High School for its excellent performance. As well as Beth and Neil winning two of the prizes, an entry written by Alison Castle was Highly Commended by the judging panel and entries by Fiona Cowan and Charlotte Gordon were Commended.

Winner of the Adult Poetry section was James Knox Whitter from Norfolk who also won the overal winner's prize of a week on a writing course which was sponsored by Hi-Arts. The runner up was Jim Bradbury from Eastbourne, with Donald Murray from Shetland taking third prize.

The Adult Prose section was won by Jacqueline Liuba from Applecross. Second prize winner, Daniela Norris from France travelled to the ceremony to collect her award but unfortunately the third prize winer, Fiona Thackerary from Brazil was unable to attend.

The Highland Council's Chairman of Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie who presented the Awards said: "This year the adult entries from across the world gave a new welcomed dimension to the event and we were delighted that many of the prize winners were able to travel to the Highlands to attend the presentation. The judges had a very hard task to distinguish between good and very good writing and I know due to the high quality of entries, they worked hard to make their final selection. Although the style and subject matters of the winning entries all varied considerably, what they did share was a uniqueness, awareness and the ambition to get to grip with big international issues. My congratulations go to all the winners and I hope they feel encouraged to continue to enjoy writing. I would also like to thank everyone who entered and I look forward to enjoying the written words of new talented writers from across the world in two years time."

Ann Yule, Convener of the Neil Gunn Trust said: "Neil Gunn had two strands which run throughout his work - the importance of individuals and the importance of community He also wrote about big issues in his day so we were pleased that many of this years entries covered world topics including climate change, race relations and religious divides. I would like to thank The Highland Council for their support. Our partnership with them makes it possible to host what has now become an international prestigious writing competition which attracts the very best new talent."

The full list of winners are:

Primary school section

First prize
Simon Thomas, North Kessock Primary School

Second equal prize
Robbie Fairweather Graham, Applecross Primary School
Ruby Partridge, Broadford Primary School

Daniel Goldthorpe, Applecross Primary School
Belinda Gordon, Mount Pleasant Primary School
Ainsley Macdonald, Balloch Primary School

Secondary school section

First prize
Beth O'Connell, Thurso High School

Second prize
Neil Henderson, Thurso High School

Third prize
Isabella Claydon, Gairloch High School

Highly commended
Alison Castle, Thurso High School

Kirsten Brown, Charleston Academy
Fiona Cowan, Thurso High School
Katrina Gallacher, Dingwall Academy
Charlotte Gordon, Thurso High School
Conal McDonagh, Gairloch High School

Adult poetry section

First prize
James Knox Whittet, Norfolk

Second prize
Jim Bradbury, Eastbourne

Third Prize
Donald S Murray, Shetland

Elizabeth M Rimmer
Yvonne Gray

Adult Prose section

First Prize
Jacqueline Liuba, Applecross

Second prize
Daniela Norris, France

Third Prize
Fiona Thackeray, Brazil

Highly Commended
Helen Forbes

Jon Haylett
Elizabeth Maitreyi
Alison Napier

To read the winning entries go to

Photo shows the Thurso winners
Neil Henderson, Councillor Bill Fernie chairman of Education , Culture and Sport, Beth O'Connell, Christine Passmore of Royal Bank Of Scotland, Alison Castle, Ann Yuill chirman of the Neil Gunn Trust and teacher of English Mr Stewart at Thurso High

Neil Gunn Web Site -

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