Congratulations to all of our Norfolk Day Drabble winners!

Judges with Norfolk Day logo

Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition judges Alice Kent (top left), Elizabeth Haynes (bottom left), Melissa Brown (top right), and Hayley Webster / Scott (bottom right) - Credit: SUPPLIED / (Melissa Brown) STUART HELLINGSWORTH

The winners of a writing competition which was launched to mark this year’s celebration of our wonderful county have been announced. 

The inaugural Norfolk Day Drabble, in association with the National Centre for Writing (NCW), in Norwich, invited wordsmiths to submit their best 100 words exactly on the theme of 'A Norfolk Holiday' - a nod to this year's sponsor Richardson's.

More than 150 entries were received with participants ranging from six years of age up to 92.  

Earlier this month, best-selling author Elizabeth Haynes and the Eastern Daily Press’ community life correspondent Donna-Louise Bishop whittled down the entries for our finalist judges. 

Crime writer Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED

Crime writer Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Community life reporter Donna-Louise Bishop, is relaunching the Not Alone (pen pal initiative) strin

Community life correspondent Donna-Louise Bishop helped to judge the competition - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Here are the winning entries:

Adult writers (18+) category 

Alice Kent, communications director at the NCW, judged the adult writers’ category. She said: “I really enjoyed judging this competition. There were some great entries. It was a honour to be asked to take part.” 

Alice Kent of NWC

Alice Kent of NWC - Credit: SUPPLIED

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The Pull of the Tide by Carmina McConnell, 61, Wymondham

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1941: the London Blitz aged seven. Her sole understanding is that of biting cold, pinching shoes, scrambled crowds, screaming fires, and terror. On evacuation to Hemsby, her world awakens: the salty sea air, steaming milk udders, fruit laden branches, the edible earthy treasures. Peace curtails her adventure. She returns home. A long life, well lived, but unremarkable. Time passes. She dreams. Always. Dreams she is back standing on that sandy shore breathing the rhythm of the tide. In 2021 a decision is made: she will spend the rest of her life on holiday. So she returns: to heaven; to Norfolk.  

Judge’s comments: “I loved this piece for moments of very visual and visceral description that make it feel alive to the reader - for example the ‘steaming milk udders’ and ‘breathing the rhythm of the tide’. It’s often small details like this that can bring life to a piece of writing and make it memorable.

"I liked how the writer plays with pace using very short sentences, and again this impacts on the reader’s experience and creates a particular tone that pulls you in. It also wonderfully conveys in an original way the sense of freedom and adventure that people often seem to experience in a Norfolk holiday.” 

Runner up 

A Norfolk Holiday by Wil Walker, 57, Catton

“Remember,” said the Timeguide, “we’re visiting Norfolk Day, back in 2021, so you don’t need full-body protective hazard suits yet.”

“Will we meet Tom Bland himself?” asked one Time Tourist, hopefully.

“No... Tombland was a place, not a person,” sighed the Timeguide. “Though we will see splendid pre-flood Broads, joyful holiday parks, beautiful artworks, happy faces and sample delicious local unsterilized food and drink.”

“But, in History Class,” protested another “all I saw were holograms of ghastly post-catastrophe zombies and cheerless desolate wastelands, where no human should venture.”

“Not from here,” the Timeguide replied “you must be thinking of Suffolk.”  

Judge’s comments: “I liked this piece as it was a very original take on the brief. Many of the submissions were looking back with a sense of nostalgia, I loved that this writer looked at things from a very different angle and it made me think. It also made me laugh and that connection with the reader is important – it doesn’t matter how a writer connects with the reader – it could be that the writing scares or shocks them, but there has to be something in there that makes a connection and this piece did that through humour – which was quite unexpected as the tone of the rest of the piece is quite weighty.” 

Highly commended  

A Trip Back by Heather Gill, 70, of Magdalen

At the age of five it was sand castles on the beach, pigtails in my hair. At twelve it was jumping off the old wartime pill box into the sand below, trying to impress a boy who never noticed. At the age of twenty one it was my honeymoon. All happy times, and fond memories of staying at my grandmother’s caravan. The marriage didn’t last but life moved on and filled with other new and exciting experiences. Now at the age of seventy I would like to go back to Hemsby, that quiet Norfolk village and remember those happy holidays.  

Judge’s comments: “I liked that this writer explores how a place can mean different things to people at different times. It also conveys through very few words a very distinct tone, the boy ‘who never noticed’, the ‘marriage that didn’t last’ this sense of emotion pulls the reader in. And then it ends on a note of hopefulness.” 

Diamond Crash of Wave by Sue Louise King, Norwich

He was being himself, today and every day. He looked to the sea. For answers. For saltness tangy on the tongue. Diamond crash of wave. Later, he walked the mirror sand. His footprints gone seconds ago. He had small amounts of coins. However, he was content, healthy and strong.

This Norfolk holiday had to end soon. It had been many weeks. Home was not home. He could not go back. Diamond crash of wave. This simple life suited him. He now yearned to live here. The Coast or the Broads. His savings would buy a caravan or a boat tomorrow.  

Judge’s comments: "This piece grabbed me with its first three short sentences. I loved that line about looking to the sea for answers. The writer has done something quite skilful which is making the reader see something that they recognise but hadn’t thought before – it seems true that often we do look to the sea for answers. It had a memorable tone, it is a matter of fact but conveys a huge sense of character through short, direct sentences.” 

Older writers (11 – 17) category 

Author Melissa Brown judged the older writers’ category. She said: “I was honoured to judge the Norfolk Day competition. As a former English teacher and Nanowrimo [National Novel Writing Month] organiser for Norfolk, I found it rewarding seeing young people taking time to discover a knack for writing. Creative writing is one of the best ways young people can improve their mental health and build empathy for the different cultures in Norfolk. I hope those young authors will continue to nurture these talents and produce further stories in the future. 

“I was amazed by the diverse types of stories that came out of the theme, A Norfolk Holiday. Many of the young writers showed a talent for producing a fully realised scene in just one hundred words. This is a difficult thing to do for even experienced authors.”

Author Melissa Brown

Author Melissa Brown - Credit: STUART HELLINGSWORTH


Beach by Zoeanne De'ath , 12, Watton

Laughter filled the peaceful, calm beach of Hunstanton. Young, spirited children laughing and giggling chasing each other to the sea. The sea sprinted to catch the small toes of the exhilarated children who squealed when the playful sea came within an inch of them.  

Sandcastles dotted the coast. Little flags were scattered everywhere. Blowing in the wind, the yellow, warm sand danced across the beach. The cliffs stood tall like a proud parent standing over their children.  

Shells get washed onto the beach. Their curled shapes glisten in the sun. Tiny creatures scuttle out and hide under a nearby rock. 

Judge’s comments: “Beach captured the energy and magic of a seaside holiday. I thought the use of metaphors was outstanding. It created a scene that had absorbing description and felt alive. It made me want to take a trip to the Norfolk seaside.” 

Runner up  

Untitled by Rosie Davis, 17, Mattishall

Anna has brought us here for her art project; she sticks painted white twigs in the sand and they stand in clusters like a city. The sea floats behind. She lays mirrors on the dunes and they look like portals to another world, a tiny place filled with tiny, winged people. She crouches to take photos and I imagine figures blooming into existence as they develop; we could be Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths. As we walk back to the car, mud seeps between our toes like a hand wanting to be held. The sun sinks as we drive home. 

Judge’s comments: “This entry showcased the imagination of childhood, how simple objects can create new enchanted worlds for children. My favourite idea was the mirrors being portals, this simile reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.”  

Younger writers (5 – 10) category 

Author Hayley Webster, a Year 5 teacher at Fakenham Junior School and author for both children and adults, judged the young writers’ category. The novelist, who also writes under the name Hayley Scott, said: “I loved judging the competition. Seeing what different children think of when they think about Norfolk was an honour.” 

Author Hayley Scott

Author Hayley Scott - Credit: SUPPLIED


Jumping by Mark Crumpton, 10, Toftwood

As soon as I hit the water the world swirled around me. I was trapped in a whirlwind of water. I could see the kicking legs of my friends above.  

I could see infinite blackness stretching out below me. A second had passed, I was starting my journey to the surface. Before my head burst the water I stole one last look at the watery world.  

I had forgotten what sunlight was in the dark and gloomy world. The jump had given me a new view of the world, it had shown me a world that I had never seen. 

Judge’s comments: “I chose this entry because I loved the way the writer described the experience of being in the water in a specific way. I love the fact it's not a totally joyful description but shows what it's like to experience something that changes your outlook on the world. Really lovely writing.” 

Runner up 

Camp by James Clarke, six, of Cawston 

A holiday at Wild Duck.

Getting Pacman play cards to play in the arcades.

We slept in sleeping bags and it was lots of fun in the night.  

I played with my toys and it made me feel good.  

We played with the water guns and we had a caravan to sleep in with a tent.  

We had lots of fun there.  

We fed five white ducks.  

We played mini golf with Nanny and Granddad. It felt great. I remember I hit the ball in the hole and shouted out "yes!”.  

We had more than one day there.  

The end. 

Judge’s comments: “This story shows so many of the things people can enjoy in Norfolk! Wildlife, seaside, playing mini golf, ducks! Living in Norfolk so many people have seaside memories that stay with us long after childhood.”

The winners will be receiving a NCW bundle of online courses totalling £350 worth of creative writing advice, including courses on writing for young people, how to stay productive with your writing, getting started with poetry and trying your hand at sci-fi. All entrants under 18 will also receive a £10 book token. The winners will be contacted via email.

Check out tomorrow’s paper for a Norfolk Day Drabble special, featuring some of the EDP’s favourite drabbles from this year's inaugural writing competition.

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