Oldham has definitely got talent - Northern Roots prize winners announced

Date published: 05 March 2021

In autumn 2020, Northern Roots teamed up with Oldham Libraries and local business sponsors Remedian IT, Oldham Community Leisure and Ultimate Products to launch the first-ever Northern Roots creative writing competition.

The panel of judges was led by Oldham-based writer Jacqueline Ward, who grew up not far from the Northern Roots site, Nawhal Sarwar, a writer and student at Oldham College, and TV and radio presenter Lindsey Chapman.

The Competition was open to anyone living, working or studying in Oldham and there were three categories: Children (5-12), Young People (13-17) and Adults (18 and over).

Entrants were asked to get creative and celebrate the wild beauty and magic of the Northern Roots site in 500 words or less.

From powerful poems to stunning short stories, the judging panel were thrilled at the breadth of writing talent in the Competition.

The winners in each category are:

Children (5-12)

Congratulations to Aleena Hussain (6) for her wonderful story - The Magic in the Woods.

Judge Nawhal said: “It was so difficult to choose only one winner when you all wrote such amazing stories.

"We picked Aleena because we loved her story about Lily’s adventure in the magical woods, meeting fairies and elves, and how she related it back to Lily’s emotions about starting school.”

Aleena wins a Kindle Fire HD8 Plus generously sponsored by local business Remedian IT and will see an excerpt from her winning piece incorporated into the Northern Roots site later this year.

The judges Highly Commend Elizabeth Shaw (6) for her funny and imaginative story, The Evil Unicorn and the Fire Sausage.

Young People (13-17)

Congratulations to Gabriella Petrillo (14) for her powerful short story Dear Diary.

Judge Lindsey said: “It was really hard to choose a winner, but we chose Gabriella because she has such a great imagination, she really took us into her dystopian world, ending with that seed of hope.

"Wonderful writing.”

Gabriella wins an All-new Echo Dot (fourth generation) and £125 of vouchers, generously sponsored by local business Ultimate Products.

She will receive a mentoring session with author Jacqueline Ward and see an excerpt from her winning piece incorporated into the Northern Roots site (pictured above) later this year.

The judges Highly Commend Izaak Beck (13) for his fantastic story, told through the eyes of an owl – The Secret Diary of an Owl.

Adults (18 and over)

Congratulations to Donna Smith for her joyous poem, On Oldham’s Front Door.

Judge Jacqueline said: “We had some fantastic entries, a wide range of poems and short stories inspired by the Northern Roots site and by nature.

"It was really hard to choose a winner, but Donna’s piece took the creative brief to heart, evoking all there is to see and do at Northern Roots in a celebratory rhyming poem.”

Donna wins a six-month Premium membership generously sponsored by local business Oldham Community Leisure, a mentoring session with author Jacqueline Ward, and will see an excerpt from her winning piece incorporated into the Northern Roots site later this year.

The judges Highly Commend Asma Khatun for her beautiful short poem Autumnal Hues, and Charlotte Coleman for her moving short story Solace.

Read all the winning and highly commended entries at: https://northern-roots.uk/get-involved/northern-roots-creative-writing-competition/

Northern Roots will offer more creative opportunities in 2021.

Meanwhile, Northern Roots is encouraging Oldham residents to help shape the development of the project by sharing ideas for activities, events and businesses they’d like to create, experience or operate on the 160-acre Northern Roots site.

Consultation runs till the end of March 2021. For more information, click here

Northern Roots is a project to create the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park on 160-acres of under-used green space, five minutes from Oldham town centre.

Developed for and with local communities, the vision for Northern Roots is to create sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits for those communities.

Simply put, the project aims to:

· Develop a range of new facilities and activities to create a unique new community asset and visitor destination.

· Create jobs, training and business opportunities for local people.

· Stimulate the local economy and attract increased visitor numbers to the wider borough.

· Improve the health and wellbeing of local residents and communities.

· Protect and enhance the habitat, biodiversity and environmental value of the 160-acre Northern Roots site.

Read more about the vision for Northern Roots here

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