“I'm a veteran of judging children's poetry competitions, but these entries were truly outstanding. It's maybe a combination of the talent of our local children and the inspiring beauty of Richmond Park.” Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Poems in the Park judge
A brown and burnished conker, deer tracks among the ferns, a child lost in the park and a kingfisher with a “harpoon kiss” are the subjects of the four winning poems in the inaugural Poems in the Park competition. (If you would like to read the winning and shortlisted poems now, just go straight to the bottom of this page.)
At an awards and prize presentation organised by the Friends and hosted by the Royal Ballet School on 6 November, 22 finalists’ poems were recited by three LAMDA-trained actors. The shortlisted poems had been carefully selected from 650 entries received across the three categories: 12 years and under, 13-18 years and 19 years plus.
About Poems in the Park Poems in the Park attracted entries from children attending 35 schools in the Park’s three neighbouring boroughs as well over 120 individual entries from both young people and adults.
Partners in Poems in the Park were The Richmond and Kingston Magazines (Sheengate Publishing Ltd), which publicised and processed entries for the competition, and which together with Russell-Cooke Solicitors sponsored the awards presentation at the Royal Ballet School.
The judges of the finalists’ poems were the celebrated children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson; broadcaster and journalist Sir Trevor McDonald; Fiona Adams, Editor of Elmbridge and Kingston magazine; Richard Nye, Editor of The Richmond Magazine; and Paddy Hughes, known as the ‘Bard of Richmond Park’ for his published collections.
The judging process The judges met in September to review a ‘long-list’ of 53 poems painstakingly pre-selected by FRP members and volunteers Kate Chisholm, Miriam Harrison, Angela and Chris Rallings and Amelia van Praagh.
The five finals’ judges had an extremely difficult task, carefully reading, re-reading and reviewing the 53 poems and selecting the shortlist of 22. The quality was “quite amazing”, said Sir Trevor, who has published poetry anthologies.
The awards event Guests at the awards event on 6 November included Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet; Baroness Susan Kramer, an FRP Patron; the Mayors of Wandsworth Council (Councillor Jane Cooper) and Richmond Council (Councillor Clare Head); the Deputy Mayor of Kingston (Councillor Geoff Austin); Councillor Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council’s Strategic Cabinet member for Community, Business & Culture; Simon Richards, the Richmond Park Manager; Pat Ealey and Joan Braune from the Holly Lodge Centre; and Wendy Macaulay, one of the founders of the Friends.
But the real VIPs of the day were the 22 finalists. Young people brought parents and family. People travelled from far and wide to make it to White Lodge and one adult poet, Peter Woan, journeyed all the way from Chicago, where he works, especially to attend the event. Peter didn’t go away empty handed as he picked up the runners-up prize in the adult’s category.
The short-listed entrants were awarded certificates signed by the five judges. There were prizes too: the Kingston branch of Waterstones contributed book vouchers and Macmillan, the publishers, donated a selection of poetry books for winners and runners-up. The Friends contributed copies of The Guide to Richmond Park and Family Trails in Richmond Park and Paddy Hughes kindly donated copies of his Richmond Park poetry collection.
Displaying the poems All the winners and, we hope, the runners-up, will have their poems displayed in Poet’s Corner, Pembroke Lodge Gardens, and the management of Richmond Park have agreed to feature a number of the poems in notice boards around the Park.
Photographs of the awards event Pictured above are the shortlisted poets with Ron Crompton and Richard Gray of the Friends; Richard Nye, editor of The Richmond Magazine; Paddy Hughes; Dame Jacqueline Wilson; and Dame Monica Mason, the Director of the Royal Ballet. Photo by Liz Coleman. To see more of Liz Coleman's photographs of the awards event, click on this link.
The winning poems
12 years and under
Winner: Lost in the Park by Edward Pearson, 8, individual entry.
Runner up: Wonders of the Park by Emilia Bryant, 11, individual entry.
Special commendation: The Tree by Kate Davies, 11, Coombe Girls School.
Special commendation for age: Richmond Park by Maya Mortensen-Ramlill, 9, East Sheen Primary School.
Richmond Park Poem by Zoe Dutton, 12, Graveney School.
Isabella by Caroline Ball, 12, Coombe Girls School.
Richmond Park by Shameni Paraparan, 8, Burlington Junior School.
The Last Acorn by Iris Pearson, 12, individual entry.
Winner: The Fern by Louis Sutcliffe, 13, Tiffin School.
Runner up: Witchmond Park by Mustafa Majeed, 14, Tiffin School.
Seasons in the Park by Daniel Myers, 13, Royal Ballet Lower School.
A Tree by Flossie Brown, 13, Graveney School.
Park Poem by Rosie Hall, 15, Waldegrave School.
Richmond Park Poem by Adam Mirsky, 14, Tiffin School.
18 years +
Joint winner: Kingfisher, Beverley Brook by Chris Rice
Joint winner: September by Patricia Moore
Joint runner up: Richmond Park Stories by Peter Woan
Joint runner up: Common Ground by Alan Franks
Isabella Syncopation by Susanna Hart
The Art of Not Falling by Graham Pugh
The Isabella by Valerie Purcell
By Sidmouth Wood by Michael Watts