Children’s nature writing competition winners revealed

The Nature on your Doorstep competition for children and young adults has revealed the winners and runners-up.

Girl writing outside. Credit/ Siriwat Nakha/EyeEm/Getty

The three winners were announced by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin on Friday 19 June during a broadcast of The Self-Isolating Bird Club.

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Set up in April 2020, the Nature on your Doorstep competition encouraged children and young adults to connect with nature during the coronavirus pandemic. It received 220 entries, and the three winning stories will be published in an upcoming issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

The winners were Danielle Amouzou-Akue (14) from Essex, Anna Stone (10) from Norfolk and Benji Janes (6) from Sussex.

“Children have shown us the different ways that they experience nature, and it feels purer and more authentic than we do as adults,” says Lucy McRobert, a nature writer and storyteller, and the founder of Nature on your Doorstep.

“We’ve had stories about flowers, trees, birds, insects, mythical creatures, foxes, hedgehogs – and about people. Many are budding campaigners, desperate to save the natural world. Others used nature to tell their own stories, for example human immigration. They connected with nature using all their senses and emotions. It’s magical. And it’s our responsibility as adults to keep that passion alive.”

The winner of the 13-17 category, Danielle Amouzou-Ake, read her story on a broadcast of The Self-Isolating Bird Club.

Nature on your Doorstep on The Self-Isolating Bird Club (from 13.23, Danielle Amouzou-Ake reads her story at 14.23):

The competition was judged by a team of wildlife writers, champions and publishers:

  • Lucy McRobert, nature storyteller and writer
  • Paul McGuinness, editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine
  • Jini Reddy, journalist and author
  • Stephen Moss, one of the UK’s leading nature writers
  • Tiffany Francis, nature writer and illustrator
  • Judy Ling Wong, painter, poet and environmental activist
  • Hugh Warwick, ecologist and author
  • Mya-Rose Craig, naturalist and president of Black2Nature
  • Anita Sethi, writer and journalist

“Stories are at the core of everything we do on BBC Wildlife Magazine, so we were thrilled to be able to support this competition and offer the next generation of wildlife writers the chance to see their work appear in the country’s longest-running natural history magazine,” says Paul McGuinness, editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

“The standard of entries was exceptional, and a real testament to what’s important in telling stories. It’s not about grammar, spelling or demonstrating a wide vocabulary (although I was amazed at the level of all three), it’s about truly engaging with your subject. And that’s what makes Nature on Your Doorstep so vital right now.”

Extracts from the winning stories:

The Homecoming, by Danielle Amouzou-Akue (14):

The lovely nightingale was flying home this year and yet he didn’t see as many planes as usual. No one was around. The towns and cities and even countries he saw were covered by a blanket of deathly silence. And he wondered - had humans really stopped? They didn’t usually go home. Didn't migrate. Nor stop doing. Although some called them human beings, in his experience they rarely had time to be.

The Apple Tree, Anna Stone (10):

Emily wandered over, and a knobby branch came out. On it was a brown paper parcel. On the way to the New House, Emily opened the package. She smiled when a handful of brown apple seeds tumbled out. She did not have to leave the tree, she realised. In fact, she had it in her hands.

The Story of Flutter and Flims, Benji Janes (6):

The first time I saw Flutter and Flims they were still in their eggs. When they became chicks, I found out that they weren’t just brought up by sparrows, but by other garden birds, too! Robbins, blackbirds, blootits, a great tit, doves, magpies, a crow and a pigeon all helped to raise them.
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All three winners and the three runners-up, Daisy Oldfield (16) Elsa Lazaro-Fitzgerald (11) and Scarlett Serventi (6), will receive prizes, and all entrants will receive a certificate of participation designed by Tiffany Francis-Baker.