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Caithness News Bulletins October 2007

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Highland Council      
Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2007 Winners Announced
Winners of The Highland Council’s Neil Gunn writing competition 2007 were announced today (Tuesday 2 October) at a prize-giving ceremony held at Strathpeffer Spa Pavilion.

Established in 1988 and organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Memorial Trust, this year’s competition attracted over 400 entries. The adult prose and poetry sections were open to writers throughout Scotland, while the secondary and primary school sections were open to Highland pupils from S1-S4 and P5-7 respectively.

To celebrate 2007 Year of Highland Culture, the theme this year was ‘Highland Spaces’. Artist John McNaught and storyteller and musician Bob Pegg worked with pupils from Highland Schools to produce a DVD showcasing the competition and featuring extracts from a range of competition entries as well as from the writing of Neil Gunn. John also produced commemorative banners and hand crafted the certificates that were awarded to all prize winners.

All scripts were submitted anonymously to the judging panel, which was chaired by well-known Scottish writer Margaret Elphinstone. Margaret judged the adult prose along with Ann Yule Convenor for the Neil Gunn Memorial Trust. West Coast poet Ian Blake and Rhoda Michael editor of Northwords, judged the adult poetry. The secondary schools’ section was judged by Colin Ferguson of the Neil Gunn Trust and Stephanie Hoyle, Senior Schools Librarian. Marilyn Ferguson judged the primary schools’ section along with Elizabeth Parker, Senior Librarian, Children and Families.

During the ceremony hosted by Area Libraries Officer for Ross, Skye & Lochaber Charlotte MacArthur and Reading Development Co-ordinator Cindie Reiter, cash prizes, DVDs and certificates were presented to the award winners in each section.

Anne Morrison from Lairg was winner of the open adult prose section with “Out West”. In the adult poetry section six of the entries were judged to be of equal merit and were Highly Commended. Jessica Young from Teanassie Primary near Beauly was first in the primary writing competition for her prose entry, "Highland Spaces" and Alistair Coghill from Thurso High School was the winner of the secondary writing competition for his prose entry "Going Concave”

On reviewing the secondary school entries, it became apparent that in addition to having three individual prize winners, Thurso High School had also provided a number of other particularly well written entries. In recognition of this consistency, the Neil Gunn Trust made a Special Award of some of Neil Gunn’s books to the school.

The Highland Council’s Chairman of Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie attended the ceremony. He said: “The judges had a hard job coming to their decisions due to the high quality of the entries which showed examples of the vision and awareness that good writing always demands. This is in keeping with Neil Gunn’s own vision as a Highland writer of world standing. I pass on my congratulations to all the successful writers and thank everyone who took part.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

Primary Schools P5-7
Jessica Young, Teanassie Primary ‘Highland Spaces’
Runner Up
Peter Dymond, Canisbay Primary ‘Sanic Beich’
Highly Commended
Katie-Rose MacDonald Canisbay Primary ‘Eh Canisbay Kirk’
Christy MacRae Kyle Primary ‘The View from my Swing’

Secondary Schools
Alistair Coghill, Thurso High School ‘Going Concave’
Joint Runners Up
Ailsa Quirie, Thurso High School ‘Highland Space LTD’
Beth Appleby, Millburn Academy ‘Down and Out in Inverness’
Highly Commended
Dominic Crofts, Thurso High School ‘Walk to Work’
Ailsa Hosie, Kilchuimen Academy ‘The Predator’

Adult Poetry
Highly Commended
Chris Gudgeon, Gairloch ‘Trying to get a Grip’
Moira Duncan, Inverness ‘A Guide to the Environment for the Complete Beginner’
M. Morrison MacIver, Brora ‘Full Circle’
Jane Verburg, Cromarty ‘Cromarty to the Pentland Firth’
Ian McDonough, Edinburgh ‘Listening to my Sisters Sing’
Paul Heinowski, Inverness ‘Highland Haibun’

Adult Prose
First Anne Morrison, Lairg ‘Out West’
Second Douglas Thompson, Glasgow ‘Finding Coinneach Odhar’
Third Equal Kathleen Irvine, Inverness ‘Living Space’
Donald Mackenzie, Inverness ‘Cula’
Highly Commended
Alison Napier, Lairg ‘Stac Jenny’
Vivien Samet, Strathpeffer ‘Russian Dolls’
Ian McDonough, Edinburgh ‘A Sighting’

Copies of the DVD are available from Cindie Reiter on 01463 251252.

Winners In The Photo
Front: Secondary winner Alistair Coghill from Thurso High School; Adult Winner Anne Morrison from Lairg and Primary Winner Jessica Young from Teanassie Primary School

Row Behind: Dominic Crofts, Thurso High School; Ailsa Quirie, Thurso High School; Christy MacRae, Kyle PS; Kate-Rose MacDonald, Canisbay PS; Peter Dymond, Canisbay Primary; Ailsa Hosie, Kilchuimen Academy; Beth Appleby, Millburn Academy.

Back Row: Principle Teacher of English at Thurso High School, Sandy Stewart; Chris Gudgeon, Gairloch; Jane Verburg, Cromarty; Vivien Samet, Strathpeffer; Donald MacKenzie, Inverness; Moira Duncan, Inverness; Paul Heinowski, Inverness; Douglas Thompson, Glasgow; Kathleen Irvine, Inverness