The awards ceremony took place online for the first time due to lockdown restrictions, and was hosted by award-winning Scottish actor and former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi, a long-standing supporter of the competition.
The awards, which streamed on the Coram Voice YouTube channel, featured members of this year’s judging panel including poet Mr Gee, children’s authors Lauren Child and Abi Elphinstone and rap artist Ric Flo, and some of the young writers reading their winning pieces.
This year’s competition saw its highest response to date, with over 300 entries on the theme of ‘Dreams’ submitted from across the country. Winners were announced across five different categories: primary (age 4-10), lower secondary (age 11-14), upper secondary (age 15-17) and care leavers (age 18-25), as well as an ‘Experiences of Covid-19’ category that was created by Coram Voice in July in response to issues faced by care-experienced young people during these unprecedented times.
The Voices 2020 winners are:
Winner of the Primary category, sponsored by Cadence Innova: ‘I See You’ by Ryan, age 10
Children’s authors Lauren Child and Piers Torday said: “We loved this poem, it has exactly that strange collision of random thoughts and images so often experienced in dreams. Most of all we were struck by the beautiful rhythm of the language.”
Winner of the Lower Secondary category: ‘Dreams Are For Everyone’ by Teoni, age 13
Author Abi Elphinstone and poet Mr Gee said: “This piece really tackles the theme of Dreams directly and succinctly. It takes the reader on a vivid journey with wonderful turns of phrases. We really felt a sense that the writer knew where they were taking us and layered the lines with an interesting mix that all offered hope.”
Winner of the Upper Secondary category, sponsored by Nick and Katie Searl: ‘Grandfather’ by Hazel, age 15
Author Christel Dee said: “The beautiful descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells really made me feel like I was there. I also found the twist at the end so heart-warming. I enjoyed this dream so much, I almost felt disappointed when it came to an end!”
Winner of the Care Leaver category, sponsored by Club Peloton: ‘My Dreams Saved Me’ by Leanne, age 24
Rap artist Ric Flo and author Paolo Hewitt said: “This is very relatable – the fusion of reality and dreams, was poignant. And we do indeed have to become ‘heroes of our own journey’ regardless of past circumstances.”
Winners of the ‘Experiences of Covid-19 category’:
- Primary winner: ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Lexi, age 6
- Lower secondary winner: ‘A Sparrow Told Me’ by Adam, age 13
- Upper secondary winner: ‘The Year The World Stood Still’ by Tom, age 17
- Care leaver winner and overall category winner: ‘Isolation in Reality’ by Saphron, age 21
Sophia Hall, Voices 2019 care leaver winner and guest judge for the ‘Experiences of Covid-19’ category said: “You all described your thoughts and feelings and emotions of this difficult time so beautifully, with emotion, creativity and sometimes even a dash of humour. Above all though, we felt this strength and hope and shining through your words.”
Peter Capaldi said: “I was delighted to host the competition again this year, albeit in a different format than originally anticipated. The competition showcases the passion and talent of resilient young people whose written pieces inspire and help us to better understand the often challenging experiences that they have growing up.”
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice, said: “It has been a pleasure to see the competition grow over the past five years and to read the hundreds of remarkable stories, poems and raps that have been shared with us over that time. Thank you and well done to all the children and young people who have entered and made the competition what it is today – you should all be so proud.”
Gita Singham-Willis, Founding Partner at Cadence Innova, the Headline Sponsor of Voices 2020, said: “It has been a pleasure and an honour to be part of the Voices 2020 awards. The young people taking part have shared such incredible and inspiring works and we have, once again, been blown away by the standard of writing. Congratulations to all who submitted works, and to all the winners. Please keep sharing your great talent and ideas with the world.”