Liverpool students wow judges in national art and poetry competition

Maram Ahlin from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi and Madeleine Wileman-Duckworth from The Academy of St Nicholas have been awarded highly coveted prizes in the No Place Like Home Art and Poetry Competition.

Founded by the charity, Sanctuary Foundation, and in partnership with the British Library and the Church of England Education Office, the competition invited students aged 7 to 18 years old, from across the UK, to reflect on what life is like for the 43.3 million children around the world who are displaced.

Students were tasked with creating either a piece of artwork or writing a poem illustrating their empathy with, or experience of, being separated from the place they call home.

The students, who are from academies which are part of All Saints Multi Academy Trust, captivated the esteemed judging panel with their creations. The panel of judges included comedian and TV presenter Mel Giedroyc, foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, actor Sir Jonathan Pryce CBE, artist Hannah Rose Thomas and engineer and writer Suad Aldarra.

Maram, who is currently in Year 8 at The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, reflected on her own experiences and penned a poignant poem detailing her escape from the war in Syria. She described in detail the devastation that she saw with her own eyes and having to leave behind her beloved aunts, cousins and friends.

Year 9 student, Madeleine, from The Academy of St Nicholas, composed a poem called ‘Eyes’. The piece delves into the life of a young girl forced to flee her home and escape the surrounding conflict.

Upon submitting the artwork, The Academy of St Nicholas and The Academy of St Francis of Assisi were notified that judges were particularly moved by these students’ entries. The shortlisted poems were displayed at the British Library, London, during Refugee Week from 17 June.

Madeleine and Maram were invited to a special prize-giving event on Friday 21 June at the British Library, with their families and representatives from their schools.

As part of the event, they enjoyed a special lunch and a VIP tour of the British Library. The prize-giving event included special guest Sir Jonathan Pryce CBE and the acclaimed author Sita Brahmachari. 

Speaking about the competition, Madeleine said: “I was a little nervous at first, but it was a proud and exciting moment to read my poem for the audience and see my work on public display.

“There were so many amazing poems, it feels great to have been noticed by the judges. Also, the British library is huge!”

Madeleine also won a ‘Commendation’ certificate for use of vivid imagery and cacophony.

Maram enjoyed visiting the British Library and accepting a certificate at the prize-giving. She said: “The whole experience from start to finish was awesome. I loved the trip down to London with my mum and Mrs Booth.

“Seeing my work on public display made me feel so happy and proud. I would recommend other children to enter competitions like this as you never know, they might win like I did!”

CEO of All Saints Multi Academy Trust, Heather Duggan, commented: “We are incredibly proud of Maram and Madeleine for their outstanding contributions to the No Place Like Home Art and Poetry Competition. Their writing was incredibly moving and highlighted the hardship faced by many children in the world today.

“We extend a heartfelt thank you to Maram for courageously sharing her own personal journey.”

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