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Red Rose Great Write Competition Winners Celebrate

A writing competition designed by student interns in the School of Language, Literature and International Studies has celebrated with an awards evening held on campus.

The Red Rose Great Write Competition was designed by third year student interns Samantha Quainton, Sarah Hadden and Sabah Choudry. They wanted to celebrate literature and the centenary of the Great War by asking UCLan staff, students and alumni to submit short stories related to the war.

The project was then taken over by second years (Joshua Moorby, Giulia Canigiani, Rachael Williams and Ruth Ashworth) for a Live Literature Project. They devised a criterion for the winning entries, wrote reader reports, decided on the winners and organised an awards event in May in the Media Innovation Studio (MIST). Winners were awarded with a book token, a book of short stories on the war and a review comment written by UCLan Honorary degree holder and award-winning author Adele Geras that they can use when submitting work to publishers. Dr Keith Vernon gave a talk on the impact of the Great War on Britain. 

Feedback from the evening was very positive. Irene Flack commented: “The event was really good; the speech from Dr. Keith Vernon was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed the night.” Jennafer Small added: “All the stories were beautiful, the event was really well organised and had a wonderful atmosphere.”

Dr Helen Day, who runs the Live Literature Project module said: “I can't believe how professional and dedicated all the students involved have been. They have made excellent use of their subject knowledge in Literature and Creative Writing and combined it with fantastic event organisation to produce an amazing competition that has given the university the opportunity to showcase the creative work of staff, students and alumni.”

The winners are:

Student Winner: Irene Flack for 'The Bystanders' (.pdf, 12.3KB)
Adele liked the way the writer 'managed to convey the historical continuity of war'
Honourable mention: Jennafer Small for 'They Brought Poppies'

Staff Winner: Dawne Gurbutt for 'English Oak' (.pdf, 76.4KB)
Adele admired the way this story 'contrasted the evanescence of human life with the continuity of the oak'
Honourable mention: Stephen Wilson for 'Voyage of The Damned'

Alumni Winner: Jennifer Walker for 'English Breakfast' (.pdf, 44.3KB)
This was Adele's favourite as she thought it was 'a wonderfully tender story about the difficulties of homecoming and the after effects of war'
Honourable mention: Avril Scott for 'Armistice Day'

Lecturer's Choice: Emily Birkett for 'Of Pride and Prejudice' (.pdf, 95.6KB)
This was lecturer Helen Day's choice. She loved the tone of the story and the effective blend of Romantic and sensation fiction. Adele thought it was clever in the way it combined all kinds of genres and was 'very readable and gripping.'

Highly commended:

Student: Jennafer Small 'They Bought Poppies' (.pdf, 47.9 KB)
Staff: Stephen Wilson 'Voyage of the Damned' (.pdf 93.6KB)
Alumni: Armistice Day 'Avril Scott' (.pdf 63.6KB)

See Flickr gallery of photos from the evening

Emily with Helen

For more information on the Live Literature Projects please contact Helen Day

Dawne with Rachel

Irene Flack with Giulia

Jennifer with Josh



English Oak by Dawne Gurbutt


The autumn leaves tumbled slowly in the breeze, a burnished and dynamic carpet of colour crinkling underfoot. The emptying branches allowed a glimpse of the square church tower at the end of the straight, short lane. At the beginning of November, the late fall of leaves seemed to shorten the period of winter leading up to Christmas. The eighteen trees which lined the lane moved slowly in the slight wind. A group of children leaving the school at the end of the lane skipped and chattered their way past the church and onto the path. Parents, mothers mostly, bent to listen to the narratives of the day, herding and hustling their offspring along, their minds already travelling homewards.

One small boy kicked his foot out, making contact with the bark of an oak tree as he passed down the lane. ‘Don’t do that!’ His mother admonished, ‘walk properly.’

I interpreted her remark as encouraging him to be sensible, but the comment took me back some years to the same tree, watching another small boy give a similar kick as he capered along, and hearing the voice of an elderly man call from the adjacent churchyard. ‘Hey, don't hurt the tree.’

He had come across to explain that the trees mattered in the village because each one represented a young man from the village that had been killed whilst serving in the First World War. This line of trees, passed daily by many small boys on their way to and from school, was to remind us of other small boys who had passed the same way, and grown up to fight for King and Country in Flanders. They had not returned home, or lived to see their own small sons traverse this lane on the way to the village school.

The Bystanders by Irene Flack


My family have inhabited this land for generations. We pass our stories, one to the other, quietly whispering tales of days gone by. Long ago times, memories of Azincourt and even as far back as Crecy some claim to know. We have lived here in this gentle farmland peaceably, yet have seen much bloody conflict. Too much.

Long before my time, though, was what we remember as the most futile, senseless waste of life imaginable. It must be almost one hundred years ago now I think about it. I, of course, wasn’t there myself but the tales have been passed down faithfully. Tales of heroism, brutality, noise, smoke, gas and mud… yes, the relentless mud which seemed to underline the horror with its thick, grey despondency.

When the first men came, we stood and watched innocently, bystanders thinking they would soon leave again and we could carry on our soporific lifestyle. We had no way of foreseeing the way this conflict would propel us into the world’s consciousness forever.

It was late summer, warm and sun-blessed. Crops were growing as usual but there would not be another harvest for many long years. We saw them coming: hooves, wheels, boots trampling over our farmland relentlessly. We still had no real idea of what was going to happen; we watched with interest but tried to carry on our lives as before.


An English Breakfast by Jennifer Walker


I watch you as you wait at the kitchen table, a cigarette burning towards your fingers, while you stare through the window into the hoar frost. The tree tops are clouded by mist, their skeletal branches frozen nearly to breaking point as one by one the last of the leaves rain to the twisted grass like bullets, their icy casements shattering on impact.

As the rosy dawn illuminates you, I take in every detail of your face, every wisp of your hair in quiet amazement. It is as though the long fever of my anxiety has conjured you up, a spectre of my daily longing. But I hear you breath and inhale the wonderful memory of your tobacco smoke and know that it really is you sitting before me. You are home for good, you have lived.

The pan of water on the stove starts to bubble and I turn the timer over as the two eggs dance together. As I watch them, a moment’s doubt intrudes and my eyes dart back to you as though you may suddenly disappear, but you have not moved an inch. The ash from your cigarette has fallen unheeded onto the delicate lace of the tablecloth; it does not matter. And though there is a distance in your gaze, and a pallor in your cheeks, it is the same face. It is not scarred, not even aged; the trenches have left you unbranded, and yet there is something different there, unfamiliar.

Of Pride and Prejudice by Emily Birkett

Rosemary Tansen, soon to be Rosemary Flayroyd, had been making the effort not to hang on her husband’s arm whenever she visited his family home. Flayroyd Manor was huge; though less than half of it was actually living space. They had made room for exhibitions, and classrooms and even a tea room for their many frequent guests who came from the University.

Soon, she would marry the Manor’s current owner and would then be helping to run the place with his family. It was because of this that she had taken to meeting her soon to be in-laws without her fiancée by her side. It’s what led her to be with William one day.

“Those tulips.”

Rosemary glanced at her basket of flowers before turning to him, “I’m sorry?”

“Those tulips,” he continued, gesturing towards them, “Where did you get them?”

She couldn’t meet his eyes, “I – I bought them.”



“Alright, how much were they?”

“I’m sorry?”

“How much were the tulips, Rosie – keep up!”

“They were twel-thirteen pounds.”

“Are you sure?”

She turned to Will and scowled, “Of course I’m sure.”

“Because that’s very cheap for so many tulips.”

“Well – I got a good deal.”

The room was swallowed by the silence for a moment. Rosemary felt sick, she hadn’t wanted to do it, but her fiancé had insisted and she couldn’t deny him anything. She knew deep down she would never have done it if she had been on her own, but she knew that wouldn’t matter now.

William was facing the fire place, his back to her, when he spoke again, “You’re lying.”