The English Department at Bishop Grosseteste University is pleased to announce the winner of the BGU Short Story Competition 2022, entitled Plotting New Worlds.

This year’s competition saw original, well-structured entries that presented diverse approaches to the brief captured by the title. The unanimous winner shines with its imaginative power and an impressive development of a captivating idea.

Our congratulations go to Holly Hargreaves for her winning ‘The Damaged and the Broken’, a short story that encapsulates her passion for creative writing. This was a definite winner for the judging panel made up of lecturers from Bishop Grosseteste University’s Department of English, recognized by The Sunday Times and The Guardian as among the top thirty in the UK.

The runners-up are two very different short stories, ‘To Be as Free as A Bird’ by Rosie Taylor and ‘Believe’ by Louisa Cox.

As the winner, Holly Hargreaves will receive the £250 cash award and her short story will be published on Bishop Grosseteste University’s website and our anthology, The Leonid, led by students and staff of the university. The short stories written by Rosie Taylor and Louisa Cox will also appear on BGU website and in The Leonid.

4th July 2022

Two types of people are separated between two worlds; the Damaged and the Broken. They are separated by the coldness and darkness that is the universe which encapsulates the population of both planets. The Damaged can heal and repair themselves from whatever caused them to stumble. They can pick themselves back up, there is light on their planet which allows them to gather the hope they need. The Broken are doomed and casted out onto their own planet; the planet of the Broken. They cannot get back up and brush off the dust, as there is no soul there that’s healed to show them the light. That’s the thing about separation; nobody can heal when they don’t have one another. The Broken are the Damaged who’ve broken beyond repair, and they are deserted and left to waste away into their brokenness, never to see the brightness that healing is possible.

In a way what happened was a warning. To Felix, the sighting of a light was what began the process to his realisation aided by his close friend, Lisa. A cool crisp winter night was at first straying nowhere beyond the ordinary, until that not so star-like light presented itself into his eyes. In the clear distance of the darkness among those tiny far away speckles that glittered the sky, there was a flashing triangle shape. Felix knew that stars didn’t flash, and when he observed more closely, he saw that colossal dark sphere which was the planet of the Broken, and he knew that the flashing light was coming from there. It bewildered him; nothing bright ever presented itself from that great world of darkness and pain. It’s people, he was sure, never saw the light even when the sun was up. It was a place of decay for those who could no longer heal and who help was not given to. He knew that it was not an end he wanted to witness for himself. Yet something mesmerised him about that light. It was abnormal, different, ambiguous, and he wanted to know what it was. When sunlight rose, the planet of the Broken stayed confined in its bleak greyness through which no light from the sun would ever be seen by the inhabitants. It was only in the dark that this flashing light could be seen by Felix, and Felix only. And it wouldn’t leave him; it wanted to warn him of himself.

Days lapsed into each other as usual, and Felix couldn’t let go of the meaning of that light. He knew it served as a message as all else did in his life. Everything was backed by a reason for him, and this light was not constantly provoking his senses with no meaning, he was sure of it. And he was right, for two days later, something happened which would set the path for his future, unless he could change it. Felix again saw the light on one of those frosty nights, only this time all of the stars vanished. It was just Felix and his older self. Felix was twenty-five at the time, and what he was gazing with awe and fear at, was the face of himself ten years into the future mapped onto the face of the planet of the Broken. The same green eyes, dark wisps of hair, long elegant nose and cheeks, and satin lips the colour of pink tulips, only much more tired and worn looking. The future face beamed back at Felix with an air of pleading. The eyes seemed to speak, not the mouth, which never even moved an inch from the position it was seemingly plastered to. Felix saw that it was himself on that planet, his future self that was casting that light. The eyes told him that this was a warning; a warning to save himself.

The future-Felix had used what he had on his planet. Unlike the others he was surrounded by, he knew there was hope and that he had to have been damaged first to then become broken and cast out to one day cease from existence. This future self knew that this wasn’t the way the current Felix would want his life to end, and so he knew he had to prevent it. The way to do this was to warn his current self, which is exactly the action he took. By using the light of the moon, which was never seen by the real inhabitants of that planet, and a shard of glass which was found among the dust, (possibly it was the glass of a shattered mirror as all this planet had was bad luck) he reflected the moonlight onto the face of that planet where there was hope. The future-Felix was the only one who could still see the light because he wasn’t truly there yet, on the planet of the Broken, and before he did become a true settler there, he wanted to prevent it, which meant warning the current Felix. All of this was the conclusion which Felix had drawn up to make sense of the light.

Upon seeing the desperate eyes of his future self, and knowing that only the baddest of omens would befall him if he didn’t act now, Felix took up a wail of pain in which he pleaded with the eyes to tell him how he would end up ending in that way so he could prevent it. But the eyes, only bloodshot with the strain of being incapable to say anything but ‘save yourself’, offered no explanation for Felix. He couldn’t comprehend his situation, and being a damaged soul already from all of those terrible times of suffering in his youth, he saw himself collapsing in the future; he could see those ten years ahead of him come rushing quickly into his sight, and they preyed upon him. But they served as a reminder that he needed to prevent himself from being captured by them, and thus he made his next move.

The whole of Felix’s night had been spent pondering what he needed to do. He had to know what had broken his future self, the thing that would break him and cast him out onto the planet of the Broken. The sun warmed his face as he looked up into the brightness, hoping to find a revelation of what must be done. He found nothing. In his home, on the steep slopes of the planet of the Damaged he sat in his small rocking chair, comforted by the cushions that hugged him, but pained by the troubling thoughts that plagued his mind. With desperation he ardently searched his mind for what could possibly cause his life to end in the way he’d always feared. Then it came to him. That which would bring his much feared end was his fear of it, and he was already close to it. He had to remove his fear, but the only way to do that was to face it. Facing it meant no turning back. The universal knowledge was, ‘once a broken soul, always a broken soul.’ Searching his book shelves in a flurry of dust, he yearned to come across that book which he knew he had. It was called ‘Challenging Fears’. His whole day was consumed in finding it, but he didn’t succeed.

Two days passed, in which the whole of Felix’s house was turned upside down in ardent desperation to acquire that book. He never found it. A different course of action was needed. Felix’s friend, Lisa, who likewise was a healing inhabitant on his planet, owned many books on the topic, just the same as any other person there did. It was almost as though those on the planet of the Damaged were supplied with these books naturally, so as to repair themselves and return back to peace. Lisa was a twenty-two year old who had also suffered from fear but mostly it was her fear of the past, and that is what led her to become damaged. Lisa was healing through looking into the goodness of the future and repair and she knew exactly how to help Felix.

Inevitably he ran to Lisa’s house the next morning after he had disrupted the whole position of his house. Lisa had a calming spirit and she immediately invited Felix in with a wide heart. He told her exactly what the situation was in which he found himself. He told her of the flashing light, the face of his future self, those terrible eyes which never ceased puncturing fright into his soul. She listened empathetically. Once his story was over, her eyes darted over his left shoulder to where a bookshelf was literally pulling itself off of the wall with the weight of all of those pages it held up together. She shifted from her seat and padded over to it, reaching out for a green book spine embroidered with gold letters. It was the book. He reached for it, but she held it back.

“I don’t think this is what will help,” she sighed in a gentle voice. He looked at her quizzically.

“It’s like you said, facing it will mean you become broken, and that cannot be erased once done. I think what you need and what would be better is for you to focus on healing from the past instead of focussing on what could happen. I’ll give you the book anyway, but promise me you’ll try to think of repairing yourself rather than breaking yourself first.” He stared at her, perplexed.

“Look, Felix, I know your past, and you were sent here to heal from it. Don’t try to focus on two things at once. It will only break you. Trying to heal from the past but retreating away from a certain future is not going to work. Gaining a different future will, and to do that, all you have to do is focus on healing. Once you’ve healed you’ll return to peace. Focus on the healing and not the prevention of that which scares you, because you’d have to face it and become broken through fear.”

Lisa always spoke wise words, and Felix found that he’d retreated his hand away from the book in her palm. He understood now that he needed to stop looking into an unknown future, and instead he had to heal from a damaging past. Healing from that meant that his feared future would not come to haunt him, and instead he would return to peace; peace would be his future once healed.

So what of the face he’d seen? Felix can only describe it as a trick his mind had played. Lisa mounted the same explanation. Fear had plagued his mind to the point where nothing more was thought of, and it is a known fact that when the mind focuses on one specific thing, it is difficult to train it to see otherwise. Felix had been controlled by the thoughts of a terrible future and he couldn’t let it go, and that was why his eyes told him he had seen a face on the sphere of the planet of the Broken. It turns out that it had just been the rocky surface of it that caused shadows to shape into a face. As for the flashing light, Felix was right in thinking that it was a shard of glass reflecting the moonlight, but nobody was controlling the flashing. It had been the clouds sweeping over the moon that caused the flashing; it was the moon being covered and uncovered temporarily. A trick of the mind. Felix set out the course of a new plan, one which Lisa advised him well with, and dedicated his time to healing himself on the planet of the Damaged; there was hope for his kind.

The two planets stood separated in the universe; one of which was for those who were healing, and the other for the broken ones who couldn’t heal.

The bitter air of the forest is almost as forbidding as my parents (almost but not quite.) My parents are more deserving of that title. The sharp autumn air is harsh on my icy white skin but freeing all the same, out here I am free to be who I want to be without fear of discernment. The trees are sympathetic to my plight, they sway peacefully in the bitter breeze unaware of the injustice in the world. Their dusky brown leaves leap to the ground, as I walk further into the forest, they crunch underfoot. The forest looks exactly like my favourite painting ‘The Road Menders’ by Vincent Van Gogh. The vibrant leaves are ingrained in my memory. Even as their leaves start to leave the branches bare, the trees stand strong and proud, everything I am trying to be. Above the trees, birds ascend higher and higher into the clouds, I wish I could leave this town as easily as them. As I walk deeper into the forest the daylight starts to dwindle and the lucid cerulean sky becomes darker and more melancholy apart from the scintillating sun rays peeking through the gaps in the trees. There is no longer a path, I have been walking for hours. I don't have much with me, I didn’t plan to leave like this as soon as I did. I didn’t have a choice.

My parents are devout Christians and believe in arranged marriage which isn’t that common anymore within Christianity, which they refuse to acknowledge despite all my best efforts. They don’t listen to me or how I feel, I keep telling them I am seventeen and I don’t want to get married yet let alone to someone I don’t know. They just think I am being rebellious and sinful, that is why I had to leave. I can’t live my life letting them make all my decisions, I am an adult and I want to create a life that feels like it should be mine. The life I am living now is not mine, it has been made for me. As scary as running away was, I am more untroubled now alone in a forest alone with just a backpack and a fold-up tent than I was at home with my parents. I just hope one day they can accept me for who I am and the choices I make. The road to that destination will be long and difficult.

As I unroll the creased tent and try very poorly to put it up it starts to rain. It is like the clouds are listening to my thoughts and crying for me and my confined life. The raindrops pummel the tent like a judge pummeling a gavel in front of a deafening crowd, I can barely hear my thoughts over it, not that that is necessarily a bad thing. My clothes start to weigh heavy on my body due to how increasingly dampened they are, so I decide to enter the tent. Inside, the tent was dark apart from two lamps in the corner of the tent beside my sleeping bag. There isn’t much to fill my tent up with, I have a few sets of clothes, a torch, essential toiletries and enough food and water to last a week or so. I haven’t really thought about what I will do in the long term. My phone will also eventually die so I won’t even have that for entertainment, one of the disadvantages of being a millennial who is so reliant on her phone. Speaking of my phone, it begins to ring, I look at the caller ID. ‘Mum...’ I ignore it but I feel too guilty to ignore her completely, so I decide to just text her and tell her that I am okay I just need some space. Then I turn my phone off to conserve battery.

A few hours later I woke up and glanced at my watch, it was 5 am. I woke up to the sound of a car and then to the sound of leaves crunching underfoot outside my tent. I started to breathe heavily and deeply, cold air emanating from my numb lips. Just as I unzip my tent I am faced with a boy. He is tall, around 6ft 2 and pale with brown hair from what I can see of him. I freeze not knowing what to do and before I could move, he opens his mouth to speak.

“Hello, my name is Lucas, I’m sorry for frightening you I was just looking for somewhere to put my tent when I saw yours.”

“Hi, I’m Clara, it’s okay I just wasn’t expecting to run into anyone, let alone at this time in the morning. It’s a weird time to come camping, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it does look quite odd, I promise I am not a murderer or anything.” Lucas laughed awkwardly. “I am just having family issues; I needed some space and I figured where better to do it than the forest on the edge of town.”

“Oh, you’re from Havenswood, that’s a weird coincidence I am too, and I am camping for the same reason although my parents don’t know.” He smiled at me. I know I have only just met him, but he seems nice. I don’t think I have ever seen him before although I am relatively new to Havenswood. Mum and dad thought I'd be around better people here as there are a lot of religious people that live here.

“Well, it is nice to meet you, Clara, maybe camping won’t be as lonely as I thought.”

Later the next morning after an extra few hours' sleep the air was slightly warmer, but the floor was damp from the heavy rain the night before. The sun was beaming brightly on my face with not a cloud in sight. This morning I also felt much happier, it was nice to meet someone who I can relate to even if it was only very briefly. It reminds me that not all people are as judgmental as my parents. The forest is serene this morning, the only sound filling the calm air was the sound of birds chirping happily in the sky. Suddenly Lucas emerges from his tent wearing an old blue cotton shirt and blue baggy jeans.

“Good morning, the weather is better than it was at 5 this morning. My parents won’t stop ringing. I told them before I left that I needed some space to think. They are very controlling, and they aren’t very open-minded. It’s hard living in a community full of religious people that think being gay is a sin.” He looked at me very worried then.

“I understand that completely. Being judged for who you are. My parents are very religious too. Well, I guess everyone is in Havenswood but they are trying to force me to marry someone I have never even met. It’s like I don’t even have any free will at all.”

“My parents are too, they are trying to force me to marry a woman like that will turn me straight, I can’t live a false life like that. I'd rather be alone and be true to myself.” He then started glancing at the floor twiddling his thumbs nervously. Then something in my brain clicked.

“Lucas, what is your last name?”


“I think we are engaged.”

It was at that moment it all made sense. I could’ve sworn I heard my mother saying I was to marry Mr. Daniels. Lucas was just staring at me with a bewildered expression on his face. He sank into his camping chair; I'm surprised he managed to fit that into the tiny bag he got it out of. He looked surprisingly happy.

“What if we run away properly Clara, together? I know we haven’t known each other long but you are the first person to listen to me and I think we can help each other escape our parents.”

“But how Lucas? I don’t have any money.”

“I do, my parents are very high up in the church and they left me funds that I could have access to when I was 18 and married but I managed to forge my father's signature on important documents so I could have my money early. I have £15,000.”

I was in awe. I couldn’t use his money that was his. “Lucas that is incredibly kind, but I can’t use that money.”

“Clara, we both can. We can end this cycle of control forced upon us by our parents.”

After sitting and thinking about it for a while. I agreed. His plan honestly was very thought out.

“So, Clara, we have my van, which has a bed in it for us to sleep. I think we should just leave. I have plenty of food and water in my van. We should just travel far into the countryside; they won’t think of looking for us there, they don’t know I have this van, I bought it with the money from someone I know, he helped me leave. Then when we are eighteen, they won’t have any power over us anyway.”

So, I gathered my belongings, and we left the peaceful forest in the hope of something better.

After travelling in Lucas’s van for some time, we reached the countryside, far from Havenswood. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. The grassy hills stood even taller than the trees back in the forest. They looked like something out of a painting. It was peaceful. The hills were more like mountains that touched the clouds. From the top of one of them, I imagine you would be able to see everything from the viewpoint of a bird. As we journeyed further down the winding road overhead the adventurous birds soared through the milky white clouds over the towering olive-green hills. Being a bird looked carefree and peaceful, able to fly wherever you wanted, free of any decisions and regret. If I could be anything I’d be a bird. But for now, I had to settle for just being a girl running away with a boy in search of freedom, and you know what? I was happy with that.

Waking up in an unfamiliar place, I tossed and turned all night as this uncomfortable room consumed my anxious thoughts. Jolting awake, the musty smell of the room surrounded me as the early morning sunrise peered through the curtains, blinding me. Birds sang with enthusiasm and joy, wide awake on this beautiful warm island. I didn’t feel warm and positive today, I wasn’t in the mood. Anger and fury rose inside my chest at my mum, I was irritated that she had forced me to come here. I’d told her time and time again; I didn’t want to go on holiday. Exams and deadlines were looming over me, I literally had NO time. Yet, here I was, in an unfamiliar holiday resort in a springy bed with scratchy sheets. Ripping off the itchy sheets and scratching every aspect of my skin, I forced myself into the shower and chucked some clothes on, getting ready as fast as I could, letting the burning sensation of the dribbling water scold me. Running down to the breakfast bar in a grump, I met my mum and shovelled some coffee down my throat with the hope of making me feel more human. “Morning darling.” My mum uttered in her usual soothing voice. “Did you sleep well? Are you ready for our first day of our holiday!” She bounced up and down excitedly, her summer flip flops dancing on the tiled flooring, clapping her hands with passion. I could see myself in the reflection of her tainted sunglasses, my hair was in a messy bun with tufts of brown hair flying everywhere, and the bags under my eyes had bags. My summer T-shirt was ripped at the edges and my lips were chapped and sore. Ew. I thought. You look an absolute mess. Trying to please my mum and prove that I really wanted to be here even though I absolutely did not, I smiled radiantly, told her I had the best sleep in the world and I was ready for a day of exploring. Shaking my shoulders with excitement, she screamed, “Absolutely brilliant Rose! We are going to have the best time! And we both deserve the break after everything with your dad, hm?” She chuckled. “Oh if he could see us now living our best lives. Well, his loss, ay, he walked out on us!” I nodded approvingly, unsure why my mum felt it was appropriate to party and make jokes about her divorce. But, she was right I suppose, maybe a break was the best thing for both us. Just not 3 weeks before my exams, especially when I’ve already missed so much time because of “family issues” and “family counselling” anyway. I sighed, finished another four shots of coffee, and walked towards the pool with my mum.

We found a couple of sun loungers by the pool and wrapped ourselves in beach towels, making ourselves comfortable ready to sunbathe. Showing off her beautiful figure, my mother looked ever so elegant in a black and white polka dot bikini, attempting to tan. Sighing, I wish I could look like she did – she looked incredibly stunning and radiant, she was literally glowing despite everything she has been through. Meanwhile I look absolutely horrific, my hair always a mess and my clothes destroyed. Recently, I’ve been in such a strange mindset, it feels like I am always drained and exhausted, every thought is consuming my every move. Exams, the divorce of your parents. Sheer amount of stress that I’ve been under, you’d think being on holiday would give me time to relax and de-stress, but instead I’ve just got into the mindset that I DO NOT WANT TO BE HERE. Reluctantly trying to enjoy myself, I let the scolding heat of the sun burn my delicate skin, closing my eyes as I listened to the children splashing and playing in the pool, having the time of their lives. Oh to be a child again, I yearned. Attempting to distract myself from my thoughts, I eventually drifted off to sleep, and suddenly I entered a new, disturbing world.

Smoke devoured me and rattled my brain as I entered what felt like a new dimension. Whirring and spinning until the blood reached the top of my forehead, pain oozed out of me as I woke up somewhere new. Unsure as to whether this was a dream or reality, I awoke with a feeling of grogginess and disturbance. Slowly beginning to wake up, someone was towering over me, blocking my ability to see, hear or breathe. Panting uncontrollably, it took a few seconds for me to get my breath back and realise what was going on. Floral scents inhaled my nose as long tufts of comfortable green grass covered me like a weighted blanket. Jolting awake, I glared at the man who was towering over me. “Wh-who are you?” I attempted to stammer. He laughed in a joyous tone and patted me on the shoulders. “You are in for an adventure! Welcome to the meadow. Not just any old meadow, it’s what I like to call the Meadow for Moody Teenagers.” I looked at him awkwardly and blinked, as he laughed some more and flattened down his doctor’s jacket. He must’ve saw my disapproved look, so he said, “Joke, obviously! Not all teenagers are moody! Some have a reason to be. Life isn’t great, trust me I’d know, the teenage years weren’t all sunshine and roses.” I nodded approvingly; I could definitely relate to that. “So why am I here?” I stuttered. “Why have I been dragged away from sunbathing and splashing in the pool on holiday to a random meadow with some strange man?” He laughed at this comment and walked briskly around the freshly cut grass, the smell of spring devouring our senses. It took him a couple of seconds to respond, like he was deep in thought, trying to think of the appropriate answer. Watching as he paced up and down, the grass brushing his ankles, he answered, “You’ve clearly been struggling lately. You’ve had mocks. Exams are coming up. The divorce of your parents. A global pandemic. The pressures of social media...” He stopped mid-sentence as he saw my face, I looked deflated and upset, and nodded at him bleakly. “The list is not exhaustive, you’re right.” I said in a gloomy tone. “But what is this, a magical garden or something. You’re a doctor, are you going to psychoanalyse me or something? Are you going to fix me?” He chuckled to himself silently before constructing a reply. “Oh lovely Rose, this isn’t something I can fix. For a start, you’ve got to believe in yourself. YOU have to realise life will get better. I can’t force you to believe that.”

Huffing to myself in annoyance, I was sick of everyone giving me useless advice, I was tired of cliched quotes that I should “believe in myself”. Noticing my reaction, he beckoned for me to follow him through the long tufts of grass and flowers, under the bridge and over the cobbled pathway. Letting the warmth consume me and wrap itself round my skin, I breathed a sigh of relief, feeling content and cozy in this beautiful world. After walking in the scolding heat for what felt like miles, we eventually arrived at a dark, midnight sky setting, with tall, intimidating trees surrounding me. Shivering, it felt like they were all watching me, stalking my every step. In the midst of this unfamiliar place, was a toasty campfire, spitting at me as I ventured towards it. Huddles of teenagers and young people were warming themselves up by the fire, toasting marshmallows and rubbing their hands over the top of it. Everyone was wrapped in blankets and oversized hoodies, taking selfies with their friends, laughing, and joking. Swallowing reluctantly, my hands trembled, and my heart jumped in my ribcage as I attempted to put one foot in front of the other, staggering my way over to the logs. Slowly taking a seat, I swallowed the anxiety that had built up in my foamy mouth and tried to string a sentence together. The doctor who had brought me here was standing in the corner of the forest, watching me with a slight smile. Mouthing to him, I asked, “What is this? Who are these people? Why have you forced me into a social situation?” A small, petite, blonde-haired girl with plaits next to me must’ve sensed my agitation or heard my questions, so she replied with, “The lovely Doctor you met in the Meadow has brought you here to make friends and meet new people. Every single one of us here has been through some turmoil in our lives. Harry, that’s the doctor you met, finds young people, and brings them together to this beautiful place.” She swallowed, almost as if she was fighting back tears. “My name is Lola. I am 14 years old, and my best friend passed away last year. Since then, I’ve felt ever so alone. This group has made me realise I am not alone, and you aren’t either. I owe Harry so much; I am incredibly grateful.” Something began to pound inside my head, even thinking about how painful losing her friend would be. Constructing my reply, I said, “Hey Lola. My name is Rose. I am 16, about to sit my GCSEs. My parents got divorced. I pushed all my friends away because I was so unhappy. So yes, I guess I do need some support right now.” She nodded sympathetically, like she completely understood. Throughout the rest of the day, with the sun gleaming steadily through the trees, I managed to talk to people, get to know them, learn that I wasn’t so alone. Lola was right, within a few hours, I began to realise I wasn’t so alone. Singing songs, toasting marshmallows, and discussing my feelings with people who were similar to me, was the medicine I needed to start to believe in myself.

Within seconds, I was spinning, and I was all of a sudden back in the beautiful tufts of grass. The smell of daisies and flowers consumed me, the sun beamed on my pale, spotted skin. Harry was sitting cross-legged, writing on a clipboard. Looking up as he saw me arrive, he spoke, “Ah! Rose. How was it?” I told him it was amazing, and I was so thankful. But, I had questions for him. “Is this magical or something? How do you just randomly whisk teenagers away from their lives? Is my mum going to worry about where I was? Will I ever see the teenagers I just met again?” Laughing as he stopped writing he said, “Inquisitive aren’t you dear? Well, it is kind of magical. No, your mum won’t worry. There’s a version of you asleep on the sunbed still. And your new friends? You will see them every now and again when I bring you back to the group. But one day you’ll find you won’t need to return; you would have believed in yourself on your own. But the memories will always be there.” Nodding, I understood. Feeling unusually happy and content, this idea was incredible, and I was excited to come back and see them again…but at the same time, I felt independent and free from the mess inside of my brain. “You know what Harry; I think you’re right. Maybe everything will be okay. I will pass my GCSEs; I will appreciate life more. I’ve got this. I CAN believe in myself.”

Wondering off into the meadow, I somehow arrived back in the holiday resort, my beautiful mother by my side. Grabbing her hand and squeezing where her wedding ring used to lay, I told her she was stunning, I was so proud of her. Kissing my hand softly she whispered, “I love you too, sweetheart. I’m proud of you too. Believe in yourself. ” Smiling, I agreed with her. For once, she was right.

We would like to thank all year GCSE and A-level students who enjoyed this year’s theme and sent their entries: the judging panel enjoyed them very much. They were impressed by the ways in which some of them connected to the brief very strongly, showed honestly of voice, and a good sense of the outdoor and nature. This second year of the competition demonstrated the passion GCSE and A-level students have for creative writing and the short story in particular.

Dr Claudia Capancioni, Programme Leader for English at BGU, confirms that the English department is already working on a new, exciting theme for the 2023 competition and invites all GCSE and A-level students with a passion for creative writing to follow us for news in the new academic year.