The annual Young Wild Writers competition, sponsored by Hen Harrier Action and judged by a panel headed by children’s author Gill Lewis, has given young people from all over the nation a platform to advocate for the environment.

Young creative writers between the ages of 6 and 16 have mesmerized our team of judges with their creativity, producing anything from the sweet tale of a brave Christmas Robin to a stirring and heartbreaking piece about the last Kiwi in a raging forest fire.

“It was a real privilege to have read the many varied and brilliant pieces of writing that were sent in this year,” remarked Gill Lewis. We had poetry, prose, nonfiction, and stories. We have writings about a variety of animals, including ants, sloths, snakes, and whales. There were a lot of differences between each component. The bar was set extremely high this year, and it was obviously very tough for the judges to select just a few deserving victors.

The three category winners—Muireann Beck, 8, of Mallaig Primary School (Young Category), Adam Breffit, 10, of Cuffley School in Potters Bar (Junior Category), and George Metcalfe, 16, of Haberdashers’ Boys’ School in Elstree (Senior Category)—wowed the judges with their submissions, which were selected from more than 300 entries.

Over the next few days, the awards for the category winners and the two runners-up in each category will be distributed.

The judges were looking for consistency with the theme of animal survival, a gripping narrative arc, creativity, language use, pace, and rhythm, as well as descriptive writing that made explicit use of facts and research when necessary. An outstanding piece of writing, according to Lewis, “allows the reader to stop and think, to possibly view the world in a different way, and to emotionally engage with the subject matter.” After reading, we often think about a great piece of writing.

The Big Finale, by George Metcalfe, describing the plight of a Kiwi in a forest fire, was determined to be the overall winner after much debate. Lewis said, “It is a really unusual composition; it struck me with a sense of foreboding and bittersweet regret. Wonderful details are present, and the story moves along with dramatic narrative development.

On the website of Hen Harrier Action, you can read the entirety of George’s entry and find the complete list of winners: