They’ve got talent! Tamworth pupils shortlisted for book prize

Budding Tamworth authors from ATLP’s Two Gates Primary School have been praised for their creative storytelling after making it to the final stages of a high profile competition.

Eight-year old Nicole Reynolds and 11-year-old Sam Lisseter, were among the final 15 of more than 230 entrants in their region in the 11th Explore Learning Writers’ Awards, which will be judged by celebrity Alesha Dixon.

The annual competition, which aims to inspire the next generation of authors, tasked children, aged four to 14, with penning a 500-word story about how they could transform the world. Judges gave a unanimous: “yes!” to shortlisting both Nicole’s ‘How a Deer Changed the World’ – an uplifting tale of a rescued doe that helps a litter filled city to go green – and Sam’s ‘The Prime Minister Kid’ – a feelgood story about a boy who leads the country with a novel solution to deforestation.

Both writers attended a ceremony this week at Explore Learning’s Mere Green centre and received certificates to celebrate their stories, along with personalised feedback from a tutor.

Avid BGT fan Nicole is celebrating her success with family, friends and everybody at school.

Michelle Reynolds, Nicole’s mother, said:

I’m so proud of Nicole. She’s a talented girl who loves reading and writing and her story is fantastic. She was thrilled to be shortlisted from so many entries! This recognition means so much as she’s had a few setbacks this year and this has really helped to build her confidence.”

Keen reader Nicole, has about 50 of the popular ‘Daisy Meadows’ books in her collection. The inspiration for her own story came after the eco-savvy pupil saw some litter pickers in action during a canal side walk with her grandparents.

Nicole may be a huge fan of Alesha, but she aims to follow in the footsteps of another role model, Mrs Smart, her favourite teacher at Two Gates Primary School, part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP). The young author is also hoping to pick up another accolade soon – the school’s coveted ‘Pen Licence’, which is awarded to pupils who reach a certain standard of handwriting.

Mrs Smart said:

Nicole’s a superstar! She’s a bright pupil who loves English and contributes so much to school life. We’re incredibly proud of what she has accomplished – not just in this competition, but at school too.”

Sam is also a high- performing student. A talented musician and actor, Sam took centre stage at Sutton Coldfield’s Highbury Theatre last weekend, when he appeared in the lead role of ‘Oliver!’ with the ‘Class Act’ Theatre company. He also starred as Scrooge in Two Gates’ Christmas performance and will be playing the part of the infamous ‘Red Beard’ in the school’s forthcoming ‘Pirates of the Currybean’.

His mother, Tracy Lisseter, said:

Sam’s done us proud. He showed real perseverance and commitment by writing the story in his spare time, with a tight deadline, fitting around theatre rehearsals. He loves books and reads a wide range of genres, which sparked his imagination in the competition.”

Former school librarian Sam, gained inspiration for his story from Two Gates’ parent and child writing course and from learning about deforestation in lessons. He has just completed his year 6 SATS and enjoys a number of extra-curricular activities.

Mrs Lisseter added:

Sam’s had so many opportunities at school, from trips to workshops and the staff do a great job in engaging pupils. The fact that SATs week went so well and that children were so well prepared and relaxed, is testament to the school’s caring and supportive ethos.”

Headteacher Nêst Llewelyn-Cook said:

At Two Gates we encourage children to foster a lifelong love of reading, to be ambitious in all that they do and to enjoy creative learning. Nicole and Sam are excellent role models for us all! What stands out is that the children took part in this competition in their spare time, using their own initiative, to meet the deadline and to deliver superb work. This was a fantastic example of home learning, with parents helping to support that talent outside of the classroom. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful school community and it’s such a pleasure and privilege to be a part of that.”