National writing award for Hemel teenager

Julia Mc Grattan with Gaby Roslin. Picture by Darren Bell
Julia Mc Grattan with Gaby Roslin. Picture by Darren Bell
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A Hemel schoolgirl is a winner in the 2017 Wicked Young Writer Awards.

Julia McGrattan, aged 17, who attends Longdean School, won the 15-17 Years category with her entry, Perfectly Unstable, about mental illness.

The 2017 Wicked Young Writer Awards winners were announced on Friday June 23, at a ceremony involving over 115 shortlisted finalists and their families and teachers at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical WICKED.

Now it their seventh year, the awards encourage young people to use writing as a way of expressing themselves.

Over 600 primary and secondary schools and colleges entered this year’s competition from all over the UK.

The awards’ patron is the Duchess of Cornwall, and judges included former Labour MP Ed Balls, ITV News arts editor Nina Nannar and performance poet and writer Laura Dockrill.

Author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell, returned as head judge for the third year. TV presenter Gaby Roslin hosted the ceremony.

Cressida Cowell said: “My fellow judges and I read poems and stories addressing really big issues – mental illness, hope in adversity, kindness to strangers and the value of education. There was an incredible range of styles and an array of brilliantly original voices, but they all had this in common – they made us as judges feel something.”

Julia said: ‘Wicked Young Writer is the first competition I’ve entered. It was recommended to my class by our English teacher Mr Ratcliffe. I just decided to go for it. He was even more excited than I was when he heard I’d been shortlisted!

“Winning the competition means so much to me. It disproves all those voices in my head that said: ‘Your writing’s a cliché. No-one’s interested.’”