Explore Learning

Explore Learning Writers’ Awards Winner 2020

Congratulations to 11 year old aspiring writer Heidi Ashton in Year 6, whose story ‘No Longer Hidden’ has been chosen from thousands of entries as the Overall Winner in the prestigious national Explore Learning Writers’ Awards (ELWAs) 2020.

Heidi, along with fellow Wells Year 6 classmate, Maisie Warner, were both initially shortlisted for the Top 100 Finalist List in the annual competition, having extended their creative writing skills over the October half term break as part of the Year 6 English work.

The theme for this year’s long-running competition, open for children aged 4-14, was ‘Hidden Talents’, and comprised three categories, one for each Key Stage 1, 2 and 3.

Winners were chosen based on creativity, rather than spelling, grammar or technical factors, giving children the chance to let their imaginations run wild.

Legendary Radio DJ, presenter and children’s author, Greg James, was the official judge of the competition. James, the host of
Radio 1 Breakfast on BBC Radio 1, was seen to be a fitting choice for judge, having co-written the popular series ‘Kid Normal’ – laugh-out-loud adventure stories about Murph Cooper – with newsreader Chris Smith.

James selected a winner each from Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Heidi was crowned winner of Key Stage 2 and the overall winner of the competition. As overall winner Heidi has won a 13” MacBook Pro, an iPad, Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, £1000 in experience vouchers to spend on her passion, and £500 worth of books for her school.

Greg James said, “A huge thank you to all the brilliant young writers who took part in the Explore Learning Writers’ Awards for 2020. Congratulations to all of you for setting aside some time to explore your imaginations. More than anything, I hope you enjoyed creating something anew from your brain. In this terrible excuse for a year I got a lot of joy from reading the stories submitted. The decision to pick one overall winner was tough but I’m delighted to announce Heidi Ashton as the champion of this year’s awards. 

“Heidi’s piece is written from the perspective of an old musical instrument that had been abandoned in a dusty shed. I loved how imaginative it was and clearly Heidi has a flair for telling interesting and hopeful stories. I absolutely loved reading it. It was unique and I was hooked throughout, desperate to learn the fate of the discarded guitar
.”

Heidi’s win has been kept under strict embargo all week, but was announced during Junior School Assembly in Cedars Hall on Friday morning, when she was joined virtually on screen by judge Greg James.

Greg was delighted to be able to congratulate Heidi on her win and to instigate a question and answer session with her, before reading out her winning  story to the rapt audience of young pupils.

You can read Heidi’s wonderful award-winning story here:

No Longer Hidden, by Heidi Ashton

The dust, the dust! I can not take it anymore. Why do I, as innocent as I am, have to be dumped in the back of the shed?  I can’t believe it. I am supposed to be used by someone, that’s what I do but yet no one has picked me up for at least a couple of years. I just sit, in my spot, collecting dust and all the debris around me. I should be used. I have a talent.


My fellow brothers and sisters are the same. Yet I am the only one who cares. The darkness creeps me out. As for the cobwebs, oh the cobwebs! My long neck is aching badly, slumped as I am against cold wooden planks. It’s not good for my body and as for my beautiful varnish – it  is chipping away! I still reminisce about all my success in the past; the sea of hands waving, joyful faces swaying and joining in for the chorus, children on shoulders and music filling the air.  I can’t take it, I just can’t. But I have to. For the sake of my family, I must keep going. All I need is a human to walk in and use me. I know it won’t be long.

Then, to my great joy, daylight approaches! A human is there. I see it! It’s my chance; my time to shine. So I scuttle over a bit, trying to make myself visible. There he is, he is approaching, he is coming! Come on, closer………. YES! I am being picked up! YES! This is my time to show the human’s what I have got, my unbelievable talent! One pluck, just one.

I am being taken up a flight of winding steps which is making my stomach churn. I am already nervous and now this! I need to show the humans what I can do; what I sound like when they strum me. This could reignite my promising career! I need to make a good impression on the humans. Ok, deep breath and……. STRUM!

The sound of myself in the right pair of hands triumphantly echoes through the room we are in and I feel better again, I feel alive again! I am no longer hidden, no longer voiceless. He strums me again and again. He is brilliant!  We sound unbeatable, what a team we will make. A drawn out pause, a heaving chest and loud sigh and then I hear him say, ‘this is it! This is my talent!’