Liberty celebrates schools competition winners

06 December 2011

In celebration of International Human Rights Day on 10th December, Liberty today held a prize-giving ceremony for its Write Human Rights schools competition. The nationwide competition, launched last year, asked entrants to write a short piece of poetry or prose inspired by any or all of the Articles within the Human Rights Act.

Judges Anthony Horowitz, Ali Smith, Simon Prosser and Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti presented the winners and runners-up with prizes, including hundreds of pounds of book tokens.

The contest was split into two age groups - 4-10 years old and 11-16 years old. In the 4-10 category, Rosa Thorbly of Ashmount Primary school in Islington won for her poem ‘I looked through a window’. Stephen Caayao of Drove Primary School, Swindon and Maddy Egan of Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, Warwickshire were both runners-up. Abigail Martin of Birley Community College, Sheffield won the 11-16 category with her short story ‘the Slave and the Sky’. Runners up in this category were Issie Kirby of Oxford High School and a group entry from Supti Akhtar, Salma Begum and Amina Tasnim of Cumberland School, London.

Ali Smith said: “This is one of the most exciting things I’ve done for a long time. The pieces were so clever and so imaginative – I wouldn’t be surprised if all the contestants grew up to become writers.”

Anthony Horowitz said: “It’s very difficult to get young people to write and to write well, especially about important and complicated subjects like human rights. The quality throughout was fantastic – congratulations all round to everyone for doing such a fantastic job.”

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “This competition has demonstrated that children understand better than most that rights and freedoms are the common values that bind us together. The passion and intelligence evident in the entries we received gladden the heart of this human rights campaigner– and should give us all hope for the future.”

Some words from the winners

“I love writing poetry so when my English teacher showed me the Write Human Rights competition I thought it’d be good to have a go. I didn’t ever think I would win – I was so pleased. The best part was meeting all the judges.”

Rosa Thorlby, Ashmount Primary School, Islington

“When my headteacher came and told me I was a runner up I just thought, ‘what?!’ I couldn’t believe it – I’d forgotten even entering so it was a great surprise. I really enjoyed taking part.”

Stephen Caayao, Drove Primary School, Swindon

“I really like writing – I love coming up with ideas. I was so amazed to hear I was a runner up. Receiving the certificate was the best – I was just very, very proud.”

Maddy Egan, Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, Warwickshire

“We wanted to show the people that criticise us that there is more to us than our headscarves. We were absolutely shocked to be runners-up – we were really pleased.”

Supti Akhtar, Salma Begum and Amina Tasnim Cumberland School, London

“The competition made me think about what it was like to have rights - and what it might be like not have any. I was surprised and pleased to be named as a runner-up”

Issie Kirby, Oxford High School, Oxford

Journalists contact: Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128


1. For copies of the winners and runners-up' entries and photographs of the event please contact Liberty’s press office