Winners of Black Beauty-inspired writing competition revealed as fundraising edition launched


Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the University of East Anglia have revealed the winners of a creative writing competition to mark the launch of their new fundraising edition of Black Beauty, which is out now.

One hundred and sixty young people aged 7-18 years old entered, and the winners’ work is now available to read on the charity’s website .

Nicola Knight, Head of Communications and Campaigns at Redwings and one of the competition judges, said: “Black Beauty was one of the first novels to have used an animal as narrator and the competition brief was to follow in author Anna Sewell’s footsteps by writing a short story or poem from an animal’s point of view.

“We were blown away by the number of entries we received, which were staggeringly good. It was both a joy and a heartbreak to read the moving work by these young writers.”

Ten-year-old Zena, from Essex, won the 7-12 category with her story ‘Otter’ and read it in front of an audience of invited guests at a special event at The Priory in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk on 24th November – the anniversary of the publication of the world-famous novel in 1877. Zena’s parents Andy and Anna said: “We are so pleased for Zena, and proud of her!

“As soon as we mentioned the competition, she said she knew exactly what she was going to write about and set about it straight away!

“She once took part in a walk protesting the proposed building of new homes on a piece of land between the town’s riverwalk and the main town park, where otters are often seen. Unfortunately, the building went ahead. The otters are still around but the thought of those otters has obviously stayed with her.”

Sixteen-year-old Alfie, from West Yorkshire, won the 13-18 category with his story ‘Red Leaves’ about the last moments of a fox’ life. Of the heartbreaking story, Alfie said: “I decided to enter this competition as I have always loved writing and thought it would give me the chance to do that, whilst also expressing my views on fox hunting.

“I also really liked the idea of getting to write about this topic through the animal’s eyes. I tried to make it quite relatable, so I focused on the fox’s grief about losing their family rather than them being hunted and then killed.”

Five runners-up were chosen from each category and an honourable mention was given to seven-year-old Evie, for her collection of poems ‘Cat Tales’* because the judges loved her creativity so much.*

The entries were shortlisted by judges Professor Thomas Ruys Smith – who collaborated on the new edition of the book – Dr Hilary Emmett and Daisy Henwood from the UEA and Nicola Knight from Redwings. The winners were selected by children and young people’s author Sangu Mandanna who lives in Norwich and attended the event along with special guests including Master English Saddle Maker, presenter and author Suzie Fletcher and Anna Sewell biographer Celia Brayfield.

Of the young writers, Sangu said: “I am in such awe and want to thank all the entrants. They are such a talented, environmentally conscious, and wonderful bunch!”

The winners all receive an adoption of Redwings’ very own Black Beauty, Maya, a black Friesian who lives at Redwings Aylsham Visitor Centre, and a copy of the Redwings and UEA edition of Black Beauty signed by children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who contributed the foreword to the book. Their work will be published in Redwings’ Young Reds and Mini Reds supporter magazines in the spring.

The special Redwings and UEA edition of Black Beauty is available to buy here for £9.99 or from all good bookshops, along with more information about Redwings’ custodianship of Anna Sewell House in Great Yarmouth and how you can visit. Half of all proceeds from the book will go directly to the care of the horses and ponies Anna loved so much, at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

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