Last night in the penthouse of New Zealand House, Katherine McIndoe and Tabitha Carr mingled with writers, judges, government officials, educationalists, students, and representatives from across the Commonwealth who all came out to celebrate their achievements. Katherine and Tabitha stood out among the 11,000 plus other young writers for their poignant and imaginative essays, and earlier this year, were announced as the senior and junior winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Essay Competition.
The girls were presented with certificates by High Commissioner the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith KMZM PhD, and awarded Samsung Galaxy Tabs by James Lane, Senior Manager in the Samsung Group. Congratulatory statements and inspiring messages were delivered by several speakers, including Barbara Orridge of Cambridge University Press, Dr Gerri Kimber of the University of Northampton, and Atalaiti Waretini from the Ngati Ranana London Maori Club (whose members kicked off the reception part of the evening with a fantastic performance!). Katherine and Tabitha also took to the podium to speak about what informed and inspired their writing.
Hearing these girls speak was reason to have bright hopes for the future. Having recently joined the RCS as the new Programmes Officer, last night’s awards event made me quite proud to be a part of the historic Commonwealth Essay Competition and meet people from all over the world who give of their time, knowledge, and resources to support this project. I couldn't agree more with Dr. Kimber, who said “We must encourage children – and young adults – to speak out, to use their voices in any way they can, to expose the covert, the hidden, and the silent things within them and the world that they live in.”
I'm already anticipating the gems that will be uncovered through next year’s competition!