Literary victory for rising star writers

Ali Jumani is a regional winner in the National Young Writers' Awards
Ali Jumani is a regional winner in the National Young Writers' Awards
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Two budding writers are a step closer to going on a dream trip to Disneyland Paris after being named regional winners in the National Young Writers’ Awards.

Ali Jumani, 11, of Merchiston Castle and Stella Elizabeth Smith, nine, of Flora Stevenson’s Primary School are the winners from their local Explore Learning centres in Murrayfield and Blackhall respectively.

A record breaking 38,500 children from across the UK entered the competition, now in its tenth year, by writing a 500-word story about “heroes” – whether that’s their parents, a policeman or their idol.

Organised by tuition provider Explore Learning, which has centres across Edinburgh, with the aim of inspiring children to get creative and give writing a try was this year judged by best-selling children’s author David Walliams.

The winner of this prestigious competition will win a trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 worth of books for their school.

Judges are currently facing the tough job of cutting down the 139 centre winners to create a shortlist of entries – something Ali and Stella will be hoping to be part of.

The top ten national runners-up will be announced on June 11 while the national winner will be crowned on June 18 with a surprise visit from David Walliams to their school.

Every child that has entered will receive a certificate to celebrate their story, along with personalised feedback from one of Explore Learning’s inspirational tutors.

David Walliams said: “I was overwhelmed by the quality and creativity of the stories I was reading and was so impressed that this broad range of exciting ideas have come from such young writers.

“Each piece of writing drew me in and kept me captivated by clever and observant story lines and engaging characters.

“We definitely have some future star authors here.”

Explore Learning provides English and maths tuition to children aged four to 14, with 139 centres located across the country.

Charlotte Gater, head of curriculum at Explore Learning said: “This year’s National Young Writers’ Awards attracted a record number of entries so the children should be very proud of their success.

“We were blown away by the number of children who were inspired to write heroic tales.

“It is amazing to have David pick our winning entry this year and clearly inspire so many children to put pen to paper.

“Well done to everyone who entered who has set the bar so high for next year.”