Schools Writing Competition 2010


The Society holds a Schools Writing Competition every two years. The theme for the 2010 competition was 'How Dear is Life'. 


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.


2010 Competition Results


Winner, £100 Tormead School, Guildford, Surrey
Runner-up, £50 Ripon Grammar School, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Runner-up, £50 Skipton Girls High School, Skipton, North Yorkshire



2010 Winning Essay


Tormead School, Guildford, Surrey


How Dear is Life


I leaned my head back against the sandbag and closed my weary eyes briefly. The clear blue sky stood defiant against the bleak, forlorn landscape and the wind felt so alive and fresh. I wished in that moment that I could be somewhere else that was not a trench with death forever looming. A place from my past. A poppy field with a stream as delicate as a spider's web running through it. An orchard with the sweet smell of apples and the summer breeze gently playing with the leaves. Ot maybe under a blanket while a fire roars in the fireplace with Eliza next to me, her corn coloured hair flowing around her shoulders. I dare not think about Eliza or the tears would cut channels through the mud that coated my face. Instead my gashed, mud-covered fingers trembled as I fingered the medals on my chest and thought of the pride I was filled with when I received them and the shame that filled me now. I have killed men younger and alike me for the excuse that I am saving my country. I wish I hadn't.


My memories of home, even the recent ones, were scattered, blurred as if my mind were preparing itself for not returning to that place and helping me to forget about the good times my life was filled with, but I didn't want to forget how fresh bread smelt and how the sun glinted on the dew in the meadows, making them sparkle. Eyes sparkled too and before the boys and I came here we would laugh until our eyes sparkled and laughed with us, but their eyes were dead now, as if they were only shells. They were eyes who had seen things they were not meant to see and wished that they hadn't seen them.


I stopped thinking then and glanced up to see what was happenning. Peaceful moments like these were rare and I was also constantly aware that peaceful moments don't last forever. Seeing nobody demanding help or looking alarmed, I turned my attention once again to the scenery. A lone plane's drone filled the sky and this should have made me wary but it didn't. I felt deliriously contented and suddenly I didn't care if I died right here, right now. I thought about death sweeping over me and how perfect it would be to die in this blissful state. It would be easy and pain-free, like falling asleep, but I know I can't leave everybody else to pick up the pieces of my life after me, especially Eliza. No, I promise that I will keep on fighting and struggling on to live until I make it home to the poppy fields with streams as delicate as spider;s webs running through them and orchards with the sweet smell of apples and the summer breeze gently playing with the leaves.



2010 Runner Up


Ripon Grammar School, Ripon, North Yorkshire


I've been in this nursing home for three years now. Sometimes it feels like a prison, although not quite as bad, as I should know. I try to keep up a positive attitude although I have done this all my life so I'm pretty good at it. You see, I know what its like to be in a real prison, to be in fear of your life and not to know if you will ever see the outside world again. The old ladies in here complain about their illnesses and being stuck inside all day. If only they knew and appreciated how dear life really is.


In 1942 when I was just 16, my parents and I, along with my little sister lived in Hamburg in Germany. It was the Second World War and everyone was fighting to survive, especially us Jews. My father had been a wealthy goldsmith but we had been moved to a less wealthy part of Hamburg when he was a street cleaner due to Hitler's new rules. I had to move schools, which was heartbreaking because of my friendship with a girl called Edith Weiss who was also Jewish.


My family were always in fear of being beaten by the Germans and taken to a concentration camp. We had heard stories about many Jews in our area that had been taken to the camps and never seen again.


Today 19th May 2010 it is a sunny happy English day. On 19th May 1942 it was also a sunny day in Hamburg but also the worst day of my life, it was the day I was rounded up by the Germans and taken away, with no possessions. We were taken to Auschwitz; it was the beginning of the end for my sister and my parents. The Nazi's considered Jewish lives cheap and worthless. At Auschwitz, we were separated. Because I was young and well educated I was given a job in the camp office. I never saw my parents again. Except for on paper. My job in the office was to type out all of the names of the innocent men, women and children taken to the gas chambers and killed. I typed name after name after name. When I was given handwritten lists to type out I always looked for my parents and sisters names. The first name I recognised was my old friend, Edith Weiss. It was agonising typing this name, knowing her and innocence and kindness she had made me furious at the Nazi's. At this point I wondered if there was any point to life and knowing that I had been spared didn't even seem a consolation anymore.


It was inevitable that I would eventually have to type out my own surname. It was a full two years after we'd arrived so it was some consolation that my family were healthy for this period of time. However, the harsh reality of this camp was highlighted. I typed each letter of my parents and sisters' names; each letter that I typed brought more and more fury and anger along with heartbreak, affliction and bitterness.


I never knew if there would be a day that my turn would come. But that day never came. My parents, sister and Edith had died in this camp along with one million other victims of this despair and horror that it really was.


Ever since then and seeing how many innocent Jews died, I've valued every day of my life. I've never complained and I have taught my own children to appreciate everything they have. The other old ladies don't know my secret but if they did they would realise how dear is life.



2010 Runner Up


Skipton Girls High School, Skipton, North Yorkshire


'Tschhh how dear life is these days,' complained Mrs Adelaide Darlington-Whitt loudly, as she reluctantly handed over a crisp five pound note to the embarrassed waiter.


'Yer but you're getting top notch cuppas 'ere misses,' came the reply. Haughtily Adelaide threw on her old tartan coat, snatched the change from the bewildered waiter, turned on her heel and stalked out. This left her dear friend, Mrs Elsie Kensington, to, as usual, hastily apologise, and meekly follow her friend, keeping her head bent low to hide her blushing cheeks.


'At least we both enjoyed ourselves, that's what matters eh?' braves Elsie, as she shuffled and Adelaide marched a few paces ahead back to the bus stop. No reply. Whilst they stood, shivering, waiting for the bus to arrive, Elsie began to feel all weak and wobbly; maybe she was coming down with flu.


'Oh let's just get a taxi, I'm not feeling so good,' croaked Elsie.


'Taxis are so dear these days you know, the bus will be along any minute now,' responded Adelaide insensitively.


'I'll pay for both of us,' pleaded Elsie.


Grudgingly Adelaide hailed a taxi, just as it began to rain. She and Elsie sat in the back, without saying a word.


'That will be five quid please,' drawled the burly taxi driver, holding out his hand. Elsie knew what was coming. Adelaide was never happy paying for transport, especially when she had a free bus pass in her handbag.


'Have you got no idea how dear life is these days for us pensioners?' argued Adelaide indignantly as she tossed the five pound note carelessly onto the man's lap, glaring maliciously. At this point, Elsie looked as though she were about to topple over into the gutter.


Elsie had indeed got a bad dose of flu, and Adelaide came to stay in her house, so that she could look after her. She felt that she ought to help out as Elsie had always been there for her in times of need. As time passed Adelaide noticed how cosy and homely Elsie's house seemed; photographs of happy times, flowers, and all the cheery visitors. Elsie didn't mind spending what little money she had, as long as she could enjoy herself with her friends.


Adelaide however, didn't like to spend her money, though she had plenty. She had become a lonely, miserable miser, and she knew it.


One day, Adelaide popped home to check on her cats. On her return, she heaved open the front door, and called out to Elsie. Silence. The door creaked shut, and Adelaide could hear her heart pounding against her chest.




Nothing, except for the sound of her own shout ringing in her ears. Adelaide ran into the kitchen; the washing up was still waiting to be done. She hastened up the groaning stairs, into Elsie's bedroom. A small shaft of sunlight peeped through a gap in the curtains, like a spotlight on a stage. Adelaide darted to the bedside, and there was Elsie with her rollers in, eyes closed. She swallowed, fearing the worst. And then Elsie opened her eyes. She had just been asleep. Relief and happiness flowed through Adelaide, as she gripped Elsie's hand. In that second she realised the true meaning of how dear life was.


'Elsie, when you are better, lets go on holiday.'


'Oh, but it is very dear to go on holiday these days you know,' but there was a twinkle dancing in Elsie's eyes.


Adelaide took a deep breath before she said 'Yes, but life is dear, just as you are dear to me.'