Aysgarth is delighted to announce that 11 year old Rufus Hornyold Strickland has made the final 50 in the 2016 BBC Radio Two 500 Words competition. He will travel to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for the final on 27th May. This year the judging panel for the finalists will be lead by Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, and the author panel consists of Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Francesca Simon.
As well as Rufus, 11 year old Caedmon Preston’s entry also made it through to the final 4,500. A considerable achievement considering there were over 123,000 entries from across the country.
Anna Tomlinson, Head of English at Aysgarth School, said: “It was the first time we have entered as a school and we are incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved. In the Spring Term we base a lot of our teaching around sculpting effective short stories and this year, we used the BBC 500 words website as a springboard for this; we read winning stories from previous years and broke the stories down to see what made them so effective. It's so exciting to think that next year's third form will be reading and analysing Rufus's story and that other schools across the country may well be doing the same.”
Finalist Rufus Hornyold Strickland, said: “Reading the winning entries from last year’s competition opened my eyes to what story writing could be and so entering the competition was a really exciting experience. When writing, I can escape into my own bubble, creating a world which has no boundaries. I love playing rugby and in winter I'm there every Saturday morning, covered in mud often with bruises of glory on my shins. Writing a story about a ballet lesson felt unexpected, different and fun. I wrote the first draft of my story in an hour but redrafting and editing it took longer: I wanted to get the description of the ballet teacher just right. When Mrs Tomlinson played my entry to the class from the BBC website, I was watching my friends' faces very carefully. I felt flooded with relief and pride when they started giggling at my story-ending. It was an overwhelming experience.”
Talking about his story that was shortlisted, Caedmon Preston said: “On the way to school that morning, I'd seen the Wensleydale steam train chugging by and this had got my brain whirring. It was the middle of exam week, the weather was gloomy and wet and with exams looming, the mood around the school was no better. I wanted to write a description which captured the mood and 'Ghost Train' was born. I love writing because you create your own world just by putting pen to paper; you can just close your eyes and think, and there you have it: your very own universe. I listened to the BBC 500 words programme for the first time last year and longed to enter. When Mrs Tomlinson said we were entering as a class, I was really excited and couldn't wait to get writing. I felt really amazed when I heard that I'd made it through to the first round; I'll definitely enter again next year.”