Evija, Katelyn, David Wells, Alice and Rebecca at the awards ceremony in The Ripon Spa Hotel
Evija, Katelyn, David Wells, Alice and Rebecca at the awards ceremony in The Ripon Spa Hotel

Students following in the footsteps of war poet Wilfred Owen win awards

10 December 2018

Young poets from Ripon Grammar School and Outwood Academy have been praised for their powerful and poignant use of language in a competition to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The Rotary Club of Ripon launched a city-wide challenge for secondary school pupils aged 14-16 years, asking them to create poems of up to 18 lines giving their interpretations of the heroism, trauma and tragedy previous generations endured.

RGS winners Alice Ward and Rebecca Edwards confessed that, before undertaking the project, they felt detached from WW1 because it happened such a long time before they were born.

But both girls, who enjoy writing in their free time, said they were inspired by the symbolism of poppy displays in Ripon and by discussions they had in English lessons and with their families about the effects of war.

Alongside Evija Lielpetere and Katelyn Barry, who were the winning students from Outwood Academy, Alice, who lives in Sawley, and Rebecca, from Ripon, read their moving poems aloud to members of the Rotary Club in The Ripon Spa Hotel.

Alice’s poem ‘Our Tomorrow’ and Rebecca’s poem ‘The March’ were awarded first and second place out of more than 100 Ripon Grammar School entries, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 20.

Alice, 14, explained how initially she and her classmates felt disconnected from the war:

We were hearing stories about it and didn’t always understand it. Writing the poem helped me identify with what people were going through at that time.

Alice, left, and Rebecca, right, with David Wells
Alice, left, and Rebecca, right, with David Wells

Rebecca, also 14, talked to her grandparents about their experiences during the Second World War to help her understand how the conflict affected families:

They lost brothers on both sides and were sad and depressed about what happened.

David Wells, president of the Rotary Club of Ripon, said there were lots of excellent entries and judges found it difficult to pick the winners. He commented that the students followed in the footsteps of celebrated war poet Wilfred Owen, who lived in Ripon and wrote a number of his poems in the city.

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