Bessbrook schoolboy brings hero to life to win National Writing Competition

Peter Bayne


Peter Bayne


Friday 19 March 2021 7:09

14-year-old Aidan Sands from Bessbrook has won a national writing competition with a story championing the work of a supermarket delivery driver, and has seen his work published in a brand-new book as part of Pearson’s My Twist on a Tale writing competition.

World’s learning company, Pearson, encouraged children between the ages of 4-19 to let their imagination run wild as they put pen to paper and wrote a story based on the new theme for 2020: Everyday Heroes.

Scooping the award in the North Ireland category, Aidan’s work ‘A Twist On A Tale,’ was chosen alongside 14 other fantastic stories written by children across the country, including ‘Not all heroes wear capes’, by Key Stage 1 winner, Vedantika Chakraborty, ‘When the world lost its beat’, by Key Stage 5 and West Midlands winner Jessica Bryn and ‘On the frontline’, by South East winner Lucy Jefford.

The book, My Twist on a Tale: Everyday Heroes Winning Stories, is available to download on Pearson’s website with all budding authors receiving their very own hard copy as part of their prize.

Aidan’s story focuses on the work of a local driver named Paul, who, while seeming like an ordinary man on the outside, has in fact ‘done as much as anyone at a time when everyone was suffering.’ Aiden describes how Paul not only saves he and his family by delivering food to their house, but brings food to their vulnerable 93-year-old neighbour: ‘If she caught COVID-19, the impact would undoubtedly be fatal. But thanks to Paul, Anne is safe and protected from the virus.’

In an uplifting finish, Aidan explains why he sees Paul as a local superhero. He is a man ‘who rescued countless members of my community when we were trapped in our homes… His warm heart lights up people’s days, just like the headlights of his van.’

Aidan, who attends St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, said: “When I heard that I had won the Pearson competition, I felt really happy and joyful. I am delighted that my hard work was recognised as one of the best.”

Over 1200 children and young people entered the competition with winning stories being picked across 15 categories including Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 5 and all regions in the UK. From medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic to supermarket delivery staff, parents, grandparents, pets, community members, guide dogs and even a violin, the everyday heroes came in all shapes and sizes!

Katy Lewis, Head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson said: “Aidan should be extremely proud of the story he has written. His writing skills are outstanding. It was an incredibly difficult decision choosing from the 1000+ stories we received, as they were all fascinating to read, but Aidan’s piece really stood out and deserves its place alongside the other 14 winners who have built a collection of short stories that celebrate a diverse and modern-day Britain.”

“Following an extraordinary year of disruption, we wanted to give children the opportunity to write their own tales of people who have made a difference to them. It is so important that children and young people feel represented in the literature they read and the stories they write and so in writing their entries, whether that be a story about a hero in their local community, a key worker making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic, a campaigner, a family member or friend that inspires them or even a hero from their imagination, we wanted children and young people to get creative and reflect their own personality, location and experiences as they bought their local crusader to life. The results were fascinating. Everyone who entered should be extremely proud of their hard work and creative flair.”

Author Jemma Wallace, who judged the North Ireland category, said: “I thought this story really highlighted an everyday hero in the current circumstances, and showed that the writer was thinking of the bigger picture and of other people in the community. I loved the sentiment of caring for our neighbours, and thought the writing style was punchy and had real moments of building emotion in the reader. Overall the story left me thinking about the characters and the situation; it left a big impression on me and that's why I had to choose it as my winner!”

Aidan’s teacher at St. Paul’s, Mr McMahon, said: “Aidan is a very deserving winner. He is an excellent, industrious student who is always willing to help others. I think that is the secret to his success. Through helping others and being actively involved during class, Aidan is honing better skills. Well done Aidan.”

He added: ‘“A big thank you to Pearson for running this excellent competition and providing young people with an opportunity to express themselves during these testing times.”

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