Amabel’s made of write stuff as she wins BBC competition

Amabel Smith at the ceremony with actor Jeremy Irons and the Duchess of Cornwall. (C) BBC - Photographer Guy Levy
Amabel Smith at the ceremony with actor Jeremy Irons and the Duchess of Cornwall. (C) BBC - Photographer Guy Levy

A creative youngster rubbed shoulders with royalty and celebrities after winning a national writing competition.

Ten-year-old Amabel Smith was announced as the winner of the category for 10 to 13-year-olds in BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition in a ceremony at St James’ Palace, hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall.

The fifth annual contest received its highest number of entries yet, with 120,421 children submitting stories of 500 words.

And Amabel was named as the winner by actor Jeremy Irons, who read out her story.

She said: “I was shocked. I didn’t expect to win.”

Her dad David, of Shaftesbury Place, Chorley, said: “We are really proud of her. It’s a massive achievement.

“We are really proud of her. It’s a massive achievement.”

Amabel’s dad David

“It’s nice because they are all really good stories that got through to the top 50 and it’s nice that there is something about Amabel’s story that caught the judges’ eye.”

It was second time lucky for Amabel, who entered the competition last year and reached the final as one of the top 25 writers.

This time, she spent two weeks writing a story called It’s A Wide World.

Set in the future, it sees the Government control people by making them do everything on computers and not leave their house, but one girl breaks the rules by running at night.

Amabel said: “With the election coming up, it was all over TV with people talking about their manifestos.

“I thought what if it was a bad thing they were going to do and they wanted more control over people and they keep people in their houses and one girl doesn’t want to.”

Head judge Richard Hammond was impressed, saying: “What a flawless piece of writing this is. It’s an astonishing, frightening and all-round intriguing story.”

Amabel was named as the winner during a special broadcast of Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Radio 2.

She was invited on to BBC1’s The One Show that night, presented by Chris Evans.

The first prize was a souvenir book of the story with comments from the celebrities, along with a pile of books as tall as Chris Evans.

And Chorley St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, where Amabel is a pupil, received 500 books.

Headteacher Patrick Smyth said: “Amabel is a very talented and creative individual and has impressed her teachers with her writing throughout her time here in school.

“When we learned that she had won the top prize in the competition we were immensely proud of her.

“Her achievement will inspire the younger children at St Mary’s for many years to come.

“And they will benefit further from the prize of 500 books which our school received from the BBC as a result of her win.”

It’s A Wide World by Amabel Smith

Midnight. I look out of my grimy window onto darkness; the fog has lifted and I know that this is my time.

I slip on a pair of battered old trainers passed down through generations, they are full of holes and too small but I don’t care.

I open our giant front door and breathe in the glorious fresh air. I run and the adrenaline hits me.

Sweat trickles down my face; I know I should turn back but this is my guilty secret.

I sprint directionless through damp meadows, grass up to my waist as no human has set foot here in decades; if anyone knew I’d be arrested.

I race home, exhilarated. No one has seen me as no one ever leaves their computerized houses anymore.

Everyone is overweight and terrified of stepping outside the world of the internet.

The Government uses weight to control society, like puppeteers pulling the strings of their obese, obedient dolls.

Everyone except me; no one has ever seen me sprinting through the fields because no one ever looks past their screens, but tonight I feel like someone is watching me...

Jonathon sat in the middle of his lifeless bedroom with his laptop on his knees. His face was pale and dark circles sat beneath his eyes.

Once again, he was up late, hacking into the Government’s satellite; a triumphant smile stretched across his face.

He scrolled over England and zoomed in on his local area, feeling like he had a VIP pass into everyone’s lives; their soulless faces locked onto computer screens made him feel miserable.

Jonathon needed some excitement. He decided to shift to the countryside, remembering with trepidation the frightening stories he’d read online about this mysterious place.

His speakers began to play a relaxing sound: the wind in the trees.

He was drifting off to sleep when he saw movement and jolted.

A figure, moving swiftly. Tall and thin like a character from one of those vintage DS games. A ghost? No, a living, breathing, running girl!

Jonathon watched, fascinated. He began to want this strange world of freedom and movement. He felt his heart thud against his chest. He felt the muscles in his legs ache.

He knew he should report her but he’d be arrested for hacking into their satellite.

His mind repeated the words he sees every morning when he logs-on to school: “The Government looks after you. Trust the Government.”

His conscience fought with his instincts. He’d trusted the government but now they seemed to have become evil.

The report button was just a couple of centimetres from his little finger; if he pressed it her freedom would disappear along with his laptop…

When I arrive home from my run, I’m exhausted. I flop onto my bed and breathe sighs of relief, just like I always do when I make it back home and know I’ve not been spotted.

I log-on to my laptop to find one new e-mail. It reads: “You need new trainers.”