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Minister praises talented young writers

Friday, 29 April 2016

Minister praises talented young writers

Young storywriters in the Island show great talent, creativity and imagination. 

That was the comment from Tim Crookall MLC, Minister for Education and Children, as he presented winning and highly commended authors in the Hall Caine Prize for Creative Writing with prizes. 

Students aged 21 and under in full-time education were invited to pen a short story, a memoir or the opening chapter of a novel on the subject of ‘echoes’. 

The prize – named after the distinguished Manx novelist – attracted 924 entries. 

The Minister said the competition boosts literacy in the classroom and encourages children to stretch their imaginations. 

‘We know that children and young people will produce writing of a higher quality when they can see the purpose of it, and this competition gives a real meaning and reason for them to write,’ he said. ‘It also inspires them to challenge themselves and produce the best they can possibly achieve. 

‘Imagination is key to development of not only their literacy skills but also in understanding what motivates and inspires them as people.’ 

The competition was founded and is sponsored by Gloria Rukeyser, great-granddaughter of Sir Hall Caine. 

Mrs Rukeyser is, like her famous ancestor, a writer and journalist. Her family still occupies the novelist’s former home, historic Greeba Castle. 

She said: ‘I am once again impressed and delighted by the enthusiasm and talent shown by young writers of the Isle of Man.’ 

Entries were in four categories: Primary, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5/University College Isle of Man (UCM), with cash prizes and certificates for first, second and third placed and highly commended students. 

Scarlett Christopher-Everett, nine, of The Buchan School, won the £100 Primary first prize with a story called ‘Echoes from the Baie yn Ooig’. She said: ‘I chose to write about Baie yn Ooig’ – Port Erin bay – because I love living here and I relish investigating the beach, caves and creating stories based on Manx myths. In my story, my curious characters were the Manx fairies and Tarroo Ushtey, the mysterious water bull. I used similes and metaphors to devise a realistic story for readers.’

Amy Hawke, 13, of King William’s College, won the £150 first prize in the Key Stage 3 category of the competition with her ghost story, ‘Echo’. Amy said: ‘When I was confronted with this year’s theme, I felt confused and felt there were a number of ways to go with it, such as parallel dimensions and historic events. But on reflection I thought “what would the echo of a person be?” I felt the answer to that was, perhaps, a supernatural being. The one thing that was important to me to convey in my writing was my initial feeling about the theme – confusion. Hopefully that comes across in my story.’ 

Xifong Christian, won the £175 first prize in the Key Stage 4 section for the second year in a row, with his story, ‘Hourglass’. The Ballakermeen High School student, 15, said: ‘The inspiration for my story was an hourglass I found. It sat on my desk for a few weeks and got me thinking about time, and our movement through life. For me, it became a metaphor for human experience compressed into a single object and timeframe.’

Charlotte Darbyshire, 18, of Castle Rushen High School, won the £200 top prize in the Key Stage 5/University College Isle of Man (UCM) category with her story, ‘Duck Quacks Don’t Echo’.

Charlotte, who has been among the prizes in the competition three times, said: ‘I am delighted to have finally won first prize, having been a runner-up in the previous two years. Humour is the most important element of my writing and this year’s story was about a scientist with a life-long quest to determine if duck quacks echo. I decided to enter it at the last minute, so I was amazed to hear the good news.’ 

The judges were: Primary – Tina Graham from Cronk-y-Berry Primary School and Ann Miller from Scoill-yn-Jubilee; Key Stage 3 – Leona Bell from Ramsey Grammar School, Katie Shelley from Queen Elizabeth II High School and Gaynor Moss from St Ninian’s High School; Key Stage 4 – Archana Kamble from Castle Rushen High School and Rachael Clarke from Ballakermeen High School; Key Stage 5/Isle of Man College – Karen Maloney from Castle Rushen High School and Zeba Clarke from King William’s College. 

They scored the entries on strong characterisation, good narrative flow and imaginative story-telling. 

The Minister thanked the judges for giving their time to scrutinise the entries. 

The theme for the 2016/17 prize will be announced in September. 

For information on the competition, Sir Hall Caine and Mrs Rukeyser, visit 

Full list of prize-winners: 

PrimaryKey Stage 3Key Stage 4Key Stage 5/University College Isle of Man (UCM)

 1st £100 Scarlett Christopher-Everett, The Buchan

1st  £150 Amy Hawke, King William’s College

1st £175 Xifong Christian, Ballakermeen High

1st Charlotte Darbyshire, Castle Rushen High

 2nd £75 Ophelia Watts, Arbory

2nd  £100 Maia Parry, Queen Elizabeth II High

2nd  £125 Ben Harris, St Ninian’s High

2nd Sarah Slater-Kinghorn, Castle Rushen High

3rd £50 Charlotte Derbyshire, St Thomas’s

3rd  £50 Laura Nicholson, Castle Rushen High

3rd £75 Sadie Lightfoot, Ballakermeen High

3rd  Phillippa Grace Molnar, Castle Rushen High

Highly commended - £25 prizes

Magnus Taggart, The Buchan

Aalish Watts, Castle Rushen High

Jessica Stanley, King William’s College

Andrew Ward, University College Isle of Man (UCM)

Graihagh Kelsey, St Thomas’s

Jessica Corlett, Ballakermeen High

Katie Brown, King William’s College

Phoebe Roosen, Castle Rushen High

Milly Donnelly, Braddan

Hannah Johnson, Ballakermeen High

Joe Robertshaw, King William’s College

Tom Cregeen, Castle Rushen High

Adam French, Ballaugh

Connor Bassage, Ballakermeen High


Olivia Hewins, Castle Rushen High


Samantha Sharman, Ballakermeen High




Katie Barbara Christian, Ballakermeen High




William Clarke, Ballakermeen High




Rachel Bryden, Ramsey Grammar




Macy Tyrer, Ballakermeen High




Hana Lawrie, Ballakermeen High



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