From 'Chevy' chase to 'King Lear'

8th June 2001 at 01:00
Gavin O'Kane made his first trip to London yesterday, as a winner of The TES competition for autobiographical writing, Write Away 4.

Accompanied by his mother and his teacher, Sinead McCrystal, Gavin spent the day as a guest of The TES at Shakespeare's Globe.

Along with five other winners and 14 finalists aged seven to 14, he received a cheque for pound;100, a ticket for the matinee of King Lear, and pound;400 towards a writer's residency at his school, St Joseph's secondary in Creggan, Derry. The Chevy, Gavin's account of being chased away by a drunken neighbour while playing football on waste ground, was described by the competition judges as "a raw piece of writing with a good use of dialect".

Ms McCrystal said the piece was very much Gavin. "You can't read it and not smile. He captures the devilment of the incident," she added.

Popular writers Michael Rosen and Joan Lingard presented the prizes in a ceremony attended by representatives of The TES, the National Association for the Teaching of English, who jointly organise Write Away with The TES, and the sponsor McDonald's Restaurants.

Michael Rosen said: "The competition provides space for real creative writing without the usual constraints of tests and the national curriculum. The students certainly rose to the occasion."

The six winning entries are published today in Friday magazine.

Heather Neill

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