Schools Writing Competition 2016



The Society holds a Schools Writing Competition every two years. The theme for the 2016 competition was 'Shadow on the Hill'.


We are delighted to publish the winning entries below. However, unfortunately the Society is unable to give the actual names of the winners for privacy reasons. In addition the winner's prize, the school to which they belong is also awarded £300.



2016 Competition Results


Winner, £100

All Saints School, York

Runner-up, £50

St John's College School, Cambridge

Runner-up, £50

James Allen's School, East Dulwich Grove, London



2016 Winning Essay



All Saints School, York




Weary, broken, disgusted, hated by all, especially myself.

I stagger soullessly across this dry dusty plain.

My sins drag along behind me like a heavy shadow on the end of a chain.

Like a man following behind me, mocking, triumphant.

He has beaten me, I want to say, but no.

There was no fighter to beat, not even to fight.

I let him walk in and invade my swollen, swimming mind

with his army of seducing, fiery, lying evil.

He has poisoned my thoughts, and destroyed everything.

This wicked, sinful demon has destroyed everything, and I let him.


This is what I wish I could think,

but it is not the fault of any other man.

I was the one who destroyed everything, with one simple action.

Would you betray me with a kiss?

I betrayed him. Words, words, words.

I scream out loud to silence the constant, painful noise,

that races around my head like a crazed mule roped to a post.

I betrayed him. The words are harsh and bitter in my mouth, like bile.

But it is no less than I deserve.

I turn and make my way up the hill,

My rope chafing against my sweaty, dusty, bleeding leg.

Nothing compared to the pain inside.


The man, the ever-looming shadow,

makes one last attempt to win me over.

You can still run, he whispers, still hide.

You could go and never see any of them again.

He has left his shadow form and become a snake,

wrapped around my chest, suffocating me.

But I can’t run from what I did,

I shout back with a hoarse, desperate, determined voice,

and he slithers off,

leaving me in silence, with a clear, empty head.


I have reached the tree now.

A withered, crooked blackthorn,

cracked bark, brittle branches.

I see the thorns and my heart rips itself out of my chest.

Guilt drips lazily, and then runs down my chest,

from the hole that is left like a gaping mouth.

But the feeling inside never diminishes, only grows.

It envelops me.

I tie the knots that will separate my shredded soul

from my saturated body.

I struggle up the rough branches,

close my tired, bloodshot eyes, and


Now I embrace the sweet release of death.

The gnawing guilt releases its fangs.

My soul is borne away from my sins,

but my crumpled, ravaged body is left,

swinging limply like a twisted clock pendulum,

providing merciful shade for the tufty clumps of grass

that squeeze themselves through the dusty dry dirt.

A dark imprint of my shed skin joins the many others cast by the sun,

and I cast another shadow on the hill.


My poem is about Judas Iscariot. It is trying to convey an idea of how he must have felt once he realised what he had done. I thought that it would be interesting to write a poem about this because nobody ever seems to write, or paint, or mention Judas after he betrays Jesus in the Easter story. It is essentially him going mad.






2016 Runner-up



St John’s College School, Cambridge




The distant rumble started low, barely noticed by any but the most watchful, most sensitive. In the valleys and lowlands surrounding this peaceful village, slumbering in a forgotten corner of a troubled kingdom, we heard the throaty growl far away and scrambled to the open ground of fields and commons. Straining for a better view, a stolen glimpse and the chance to wish them luck. We had known it was coming, heard the grim warnings and whispered worries of parents and teachers and now a scattering of rabbits diving to safety in the bracken, told us the moment was here. All around the birds and squirrels abandoned branches shuddering with the growing drone of far-off beasts, creeping to the safety of the spongy forest floor.


The rumble grew from a distant hum to throaty roar, shattering the calm of sleeping cottages with curling chimney smoke and flower-dressed gardens. We stumbled, bikes abandoned in our frenzy and excitement, clambering higher up the spiky thistled hill as sheep tumbled in fright and confusion towards us. The cacophony was all around now, wrapping the village in noise that was terrifying and reassuring at the same time, sending trembles of excitement across the ponds and lakes. They are coming! They are coming!


We reached the summit just in time to see the greying presence of these great airborne warriors basked in the July light. We rejoiced in the shadow on the hill, leaping and waving as the ground shook and roared in joyful welcome, and hugged each other in a rapture and excitement we would never forget. The waves of shadows spilled across the valley below as our happy band gazed in admiration and called out their names, so familiar from our magazines. Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters, Bristol Blenheims, Gloster Gladiators. This is the wave that will turn the tide.


As the shadow passed and the thunder spilled across the villages beyond we stood awe-struck, our hearts soaring like eagles, blood racing though our veins like mountain streams after November rain. We never said it, but we all wondered how many would return to their villages, in other valleys across our brave little island, how many children like us would wake to a darker time?


When the rumble was a far-off buzz and timid rabbits ventured back onto the hillside, we slowly wandered down towards curling paths below, spirits still soaring, hearts filled with the shadow on the hill.






2016 Runner-up



James Allen’s Girls’ School, East Dulwich Grove, London




It is around dusk in the summer months when the hazy Indian Summer sun starts to sink beneath the hill, and the surrounding farmland is bathed in a glowing evening light. From the distant wood the tawny owl gives its soft warning. From the sheds below the hill a contented mooing can be heard as the cows settle down to sleep. This is the time when a small shadow can be seen sliding from a rabbit hole. The shadow cautiously makes its way through the small collection of trees on top of the hill. I settle myself on the grass amongst the dandelions and thistles to watch her progress. A jay roosting in the old oak cackles rudely at her, alerting some fat lazy pigeons that she had been eyeing to her presence. They scatter. I can’t help but gasp. As I watch her she seems to melt across the field and towards the lake. I know where she is going and I know she will be out of sight soon.


I change my position to a wizened mulberry tree on the edge of the lake. A lone moorhen skitters across the still surface of the water. The shadow is now slithering towards the main rabbit burrow. The sunlight is slowly becoming dimmer and dimmer. She must be quick because these rabbits know better than to be out after dark. I am starting to hear the squeaking of the pipistrelle bats and I know she has minutes. She is as still as the water of the lake. Her quarry is still eating away at the grass, blissfully unaware.


Then my favourite part: like a snake she leaps from the long grass, locking her teeth into the rabbit. The others scramble for safety, desperately screaming. With a clattering of wings some roosting wood pigeons take flight. The stoat slowly lets go of her prize. She collapses on the grass, panting from the effort of the struggle. I pick a mulberry and eat it, grinning madly to myself. “What a catch,’ I whisper.


The little shadow is now dragging the young rabbit up her hill. I have left the mulberry tree and am walking up to the farmhouse, flushed with her success. The little stoat, my little shadow, slips back into her hole as the sun sinks beneath the hill. Silence returns.