A staggering 650 entries were received for the FRP's Poems in the Park competition and over 80% of these were from young people aged 8-17. Over 30 schools in the Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth council areas sent in entries and a large number of others were sent in independently by adults and young people.
Initially, a group of 5 volunteer judges (including English teachers and poetry and literature enthusiasts) all members of the Friends sorted through the entries in what proved to be a very difficult task as the quality of writing was extremely high.
The judge-volunteers were: Kate Chisholm, Miriam Harrison, Angela Ralling, Chris Ralling and Amelia van Praagh. Together with Richard Nye, Editor of the Richmond magazine, and Fiona Adams, Editor of Kingston magazine, these initial round judges arrived at 'long' lists in each of the three age categories; 12 and under, 13- 18 years and 18 years plus.
On 27 September the final judging took place at Pembroke Lodge. The panel who reviewed the 'long' lists were: Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Trevor McDonald, Paddy Hughes and the two Editors, Fiona Adams and Richard Nye. After a full day of discussion and passionate debate, they managed to put together shortlists for each of the three categories.
All the judges agreed it had been an extremely difficult job as the quality was, according to Sir Trevor, "quite amazing". He is a true poetry lover and has published two anthologies of his favourite poems and Dame Jacqueline published her own collection of poems for girls, Green Glass Beads, in early September. Dame Jacqueline was hugely impressed by the quality of children's writing: "I really think that there is some major talent among the entries we read", she said.
Shortlist and awards
The shortlists of entries will be published later this month in the Richmond and Kingston magazines, on the FRP website and in other FRP communications.
On 6 November an awards presentation will be held at the Royal Ballet Lower School in White Lodge in front of an invited audience with all the judges in attendance, although Sir Trevor's schedule means he may not be able to attend. The event will announce the winners, runners-up and commendations. Many of the poems will be displayed later in the year and into 2012.