Schools Writing Competition 2014


The Society holds a Schools Writing Competition every two years. The theme for the 2014 competition was 'Spirit of the Wood'. 


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.



2014 Competition Results

Winner, £100

The Holy Trinity C of E Secondary School, Crawley, West Sussex

Runner-up, £50

Uckfield Community Technology College, Uckfield, East Sussex

Runner-up, £50

Oundle School, Oundle, Peterborough


2014 Winning Essay


The Holy Trinity Cof E Secondary School, Crawley, West Sussex


Spirit of the Wood


The sun was setting, and in the dim dusk light the creatures of the wood were emerging. Bats crawled out of their treetops roosts and drifted downwards, snapping at moths. Foxes crept out of their dens, snouts skywards, sniffing at the air. Crunching leaves underfoot, a shadow-dappled deer moved in amongst the tenebrous trees. For a moment it all seems real again . . .


Trees of wood, creatures with fur, birds in the air and leaves near the sky. Gone. Fading memories. Once, you could find them in abundance, just a short way from home; you could hear the rustles and trills of the sylvan life and feel the breeze on your face.


Now we have trees of metal to light our paths, and the creatures which travel those paths are metal too, roaring and filling the skies with their suffocating smoke. That air has its own share of roaring, bellowing metal creatures and their smoke looks as the clouds used to, fluffy and jovial.


Instead of setts, dens, burrows and warrens, of treetops roosts, dells, nests and dwellings we inhabit blocky, ugly creations of immovable, unnatural stone which fill every available space all across the planet. Deserts and oceans, their vast emptiness for so long unconquerable, are already being filled with them.


The open green spaces can still be found, but tightly controlled and under strict regulations. We cover them and use them for our own unexplainable purposes, but they too are vanishing as we move indoors towards our flickering boxes of lights. Gone are the savannahs and meadows that once stretched right across the globe.


Once, the forests of old stretched for immeasurable distances beneath the star-speckled sky. In them, things flitted and flew that never saw the sun and subsisted on small sky-dwellers and sylphs. Benevolent spiked shuffling creatures’ faces emerged sporadically from under piles of leaves to seek bugs ground-dwelling insects. Their opposites, the malevolent-faced leathery-winged flying creatures were constantly bursting from the treetops in fast-paced chases after insects in flight. Life there was diverse and ever-present.


Moreover, more real, more lifelike even, than any number of metal or plastic creations, were the trees. More millennia they stood, mostly silent, seemingly ongoing, everlasting, enduring. Monarchies and dynasties rose and fell, countries and nations came and went, but there were always trees – so much a part of it they became ignored, as yet another thing that grew in the untamed land where we were not.


The trees were always there, the lungs of our world, purifying our air and water and feeding the wilds. Their grandeur and splendour surrounded us and the life they supported feared us. In some places, they were revered as providers and protectors and thanked for their gifts. Their spirits which dwelled within their trunks were worshipped and the forests left alone, intact.


However in most places the trees were cut down: for cattle, for crops, for leisure, for building. For things with alternatives. The spirits were called non-existent, the backward beliefs of primitive, and the diversity of life called vermin, to be exterminated. The woods were gone, and their spirits were dead.



2014 Runner-up


Uckfield Community Technology College


Spirit of the Wood


The spirit of the wood is the turf on which our reverie can momentarily become realism:

where our thoughts take flight, and fantasies ignite;

the peeling bark the rough of our minds;

the moss covered trunks the blur in our vision.


Another path laden with pine needles. Another opening which we’re impotent to resist:

a winding stream of doubt-filled possibilities,

a lonely branch reaching

for endless epiphanies.


Faint cries of whistling song reply to the maudlin tears -

We sit and wait, and imagine what a different life would be.

We go to escape.


To be alone.


Projections of what’s above us blanket the floor;

tumbling leaves spin pathways in the voids.

They fill the unknown spaces.

We’re careful not to step heavily; to awaken the unknown.

Treading lighter and lighter,

Until we become no more.


And then we can breathe.

We can stand tall.


Heartfelt recollections are quick to enter.

To take over.

To cover up.

New branches grow new prospects, and the wind whistles

a song of unspoiled tranquillity.


Laughter is again a familiar sound.

The tears spilled are no longer of despondency, but of joy and elated delirium.

Cleaner air sets a fresh wisdom.

All that was rough is now serene.

All that was torn is now bettered.

It’s shining. It’s bright. We can finally see it through.


The Spirit of the Woods is the calm to the storm –

the sympathy to tribulation.

A bed of wildflowers softens our fall.

The bumps beneath our feet remind us of our stability in an unpredictable civilisation.

We may feel forlorn.

A beautiful world may perplex us,

but the spirit will alleviate us;

will confine us.

Conserve us.


But only if we give it the power to do so.


The Spirit of the Woods is the tears we cry.

It’s the laughter we scream.

It’s the mud on our clothing and the bruises on our knees.

It’s the trips to the ground.

The standing up tall.

Being lost.

Being scared.


Being free.



2014 Runner-up


Oundle School


Eight Thrones


Eight thrones, gold and grand

emit a soft candle light glow.

And seven silhouettes sitting there

Waiting, waiting, waiting for their turn.

Waiting for morning or for evening,

for the dusk of one season and the dawn of the next.

The royalty of the forest,

the spirit of the wood.


As the first amber sunrise of spring comes around,

a young girl rises with it from her throne.

Sandy hair, flawless skin,

bare feet and a fairy flower dress.

Clothed in petals, she skips around

Kissing blossoms open

and singing the bluebirds out of their eggs;

cracking the last sapphires of winter.

Emerald leaves grow on the barren trees;

New gowns for the new spring life.


And as the coal black night time comes,

Another takes her place.

A boy this time, has his turn,

the transition like the every blowing wind,

and the forest flows on.

The ground soft and moist,

new shoots sprout up between his toes.


When the lemon sun of summer comes

another steps off of his throne.

Like midsummer Puck,

or Peter Pan.

His cheery bronze skin and cheeky smile,

mischievous, his eyes are wild.

The woods shelter him from the glaring sun

looking down on him harshly from above.

Teasing little birds who cannot yet fly,

luring young children into the woods.


With the warm sunset breeze

comes a gentle happy girl,

clothed in the rosy colours of the disappearing sun.

The freckles on her face

are the stars in the sky.

She guides the children to their beds,

watching over silver shadows

of lovers in the woods for a late night stroll.


As autumn arises the next takes her place

Her skirts burgundy, glow copper.

As she sets the trees alight

they blaze pumpkin orange, crimson, ruby and gold.

Leaves crackle and crunch

beneath the soft soles of her feet.

She laughs and plays with the children

who go puddle jumping

and disturb the neatly raked leaves

into swirling storms of brown and gold.


Her mellow partner sleeps the nights,

his hammock made of maple leaves,

smile sweeter than the syrup of their trees.

His hug is cool, his breeze is chilly,

but soft and comforting,

a scarf needed perhaps,

but without the sharp edge of winter’s knife.


A boy, skin pale, blue lips,

he glows with the complexion of the moon.

He flashes snow white smiles,

eyes sparkling like diamonds.

He builds snowmen with the children

and helps them find lost sleds.

Hot chocolate, and fires

warm his frozen hands.

Unlike his crueller sister who lures the people out.


Her long, soft, white blond hair,

perfect white skin.

Blue lips like her brother,

dressed in a glittering cobalt gown.

She beckons people out their houses in the dead of night.

Midnight snowflakes cool their skin,

like the soft silk of her dress

and her smooth hands.

Snow angels freezing on the ground.

Lying under sugar coated pines,

she pulls out winter’s ice cold knife.