A CLEANER, jaded by work and bitter disappointments, sits in the grand library, where she works.
All around her are leather-bound volumes telling of great and noble lives.
Books have been her solace and when she looks at them, they become a screen, showing her memories of life – and what could have been.
This story has won the Liverpool Athenaeum’s 11th annual competition for young writers, which is supported by the Liverpool Post, Radio Merseyside, the English Speaking Union and Liverpool City Council.
The story was written by Laura Sanders of St Julie’s Catholic High School, Woolton. She received the £1,000 first prize at a ceremony in the Athenaeum last night.
More than 50 boys and girls, aged between 16 and 19 and from schools across the region, entered this year by writing up to 1,500 words on a subject of their own choosing. From these, the judges picked seven finalists, who were asked to write a short story or essay, beginning with the words, “I walked into the Athenaeum library and smelt the leather chairs …”.
These were judged by Frank Moran and Ian Cubbin from the Athenaeum, Liverpool Post columnist and public speaker David Charters and Roger Phillips of Radio Merseyside.
They agreed the standard had been superb this year and there was barely a whisker between three writers. But, by consensus, the judges chose Laura with two runners-up – Charlie Lord of Bellerive Catholic College, Liverpool, and Kaya Purchase-Ward of Upton Hall School, Wirral.
The other finalists were Sally Boffey from Birkenhead School; Emma Briscoe, Belvedere Academy, Liverpool; Kiera Finn-Oluonye; Belvedere Academy; and Rachel Sutherland, Hilbre High School, Wirral.
In addition to the £1,000, Laura will have her story published in the Liverpool Post and receive a year’s honorary membership of the Athenaeum with access to its library of more than 50,000 books. A donation of £100 will be made to her own school’s library.
Also, her story will be read on Radio Merseyside, along with those of Charlie and Kaya, both of whom will receive a cheque for £100. All entrants this year have been awarded a certificate of merit.
“It is easy to say that the standard rises every year, but this time the judges were all agreed that it had been an outstanding competition. The difficulty was singling one out as the winner,” said Frank Moran, chairman of the judges.
Laura’s story will be published in next Thursday’s Liverpool Post.