A young poet from Bromsgrove School has scooped a prize in the National Memorial Arboretum’s poetry competition, winning a hornbeam sapling and plaque for the School commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
James Bateman, aged 13 wrote a poem about the hornbeam tree which became a poignant symbol of hope during the Battle of the Somme, one of the defining events of the First World War. The tree was the only one left standing in Delville Wood, Longueval, northern France after the area was flattened during two months of heavy fighting, nearly 100 years ago.
Tom Wyre, Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate 2013-14 who was on the judging panel said “It was an absolute delight to get involved as a judge in the Somme 100 poetry competition and no doubt there will be a number of very proud entrants since the standard was extremely high”. The other panel members were Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2006/7; Amerah Saleh, a young spoken word artist; Katrice Horsley, National Storytelling Laureate 2012-2014 and Matilda Houston-Brown, the current Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire and Stoke who said “It was a real honour and it was pretty hard to choose the winner, as there was quite a lot of talent! I'm really pleased with the final outcome.”
Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director of the National Arboretum, said: “The poetry competition was one of many activities and events that we are organising to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. “The competition clearly captured the imagination of pupils and we were very impressed by the high quality of entries. We look forward to continuing to engage with children and young people on this defining event in British military history.”
The National Memorial Arboretum is running a five-month programme of events for people of all ages to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. For details, log on to www.thenma.org.uk/somme100