This biennial competition is organised by The Neil Gunn Trust in partnership with High Life Highland. The lead judge for this, the 15th competition was the distinguished journalist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart.
The competition has 4 sections – Adult Short Story and Adult Poetry are open to writers worldwide; the Secondary (S3-S6) and Primary (P5-P7) Schools sections are open to pupils attending Highland Council schools.
Themes for 2018/19
For all sections, the themes are quotes from Neil Gunn’s writing.
Adult Poetry and Short Story sections
As usual, there was a choice of two themes in the adult sections.
- “Suddenly something came out of the land, some cool shiver of Spring” (The Serpent)
- “…at last, all the pieces, the whole pattern”(The Key of the Chest)
Secondary schools (S3-S6)
- “From the high summit, the solitary figure would watch the dawn come up…” (Highland River)
Primary schools (P5-P7)
- “Everything was very quiet and still” (Blood Hunt)
The award ceremony took place on Wednesday 12th June at Strathpeffer Pavilion. The prizes were presented by Robert Davidson, Neil Gunn Trust trustee and managing director of Sandstone Press, which had just won the Man Booker International Prize for publishing Celestial Bodies.
Adult Poetry section
First prize: ‘Seelence’ by Sheila Templeton
Second prize: ‘The Tinkers’ Heart’ by Jane Picton Smith
Third prize: ‘A Boy’ by Ian McDonough
Highly Commended: ‘Bird’ by Frances Malaney
Highly Commended: ‘When the Time Comes’ by Heather F. Reid
Judges commentary adult poetry section.
Adult Short Story section
First prize: ‘The Undertaking’ by Susan Grant
Second prize: ‘In the Passing’ by Heather F. Reid
Third prize: ‘The Doorkeeper’ by Janet Killeen
Highly Commended: ‘Fretting over the Yellow Sun’ by Douglas Bruton
Highly Commended: ‘Primavera’ by S.A.MacLeod
Commended: ‘Corner Shop’ by Halia Baillie
Commended: ‘Our Father’ by Rebecca O’Hara
Judges commentary adult short story section.
Secondary Schools section
First prize: ‘Ruined Broch’ by Tomos Dargie, Fortrose Academy
Second prize: ‘Cup of Tea on Christmas’ by Nya Gibson-Proudfoot, Fortrose Academy
Third prize: ‘Accused’ by Iona Ramsey, Dingwall Academy
Highly Commended: ‘The Watcher’s Bride’ by Eve Flugel, Charleston Academy
Highly Commended: ‘The Monster in my Dreams’ by Meg Leaver, Charleston Academy
Commended: ‘From the high summit’ by Sarah-Ann Corcoran, Dingwall Academy
Commended: ‘Metamorphosis’ by Christy MacPherson, Charleston Academy
The High Life Highland Prize for the school with the best entries overall: Charleston Academy
Judges commentary secondary schools section.
Primary Schools section
First prize: ‘The Loch, Trees and the Sky’ by Pollaidh Astley, Cawdor Primary
Second prize: ‘Sorrow’ by Rudi Charteris, Cawdor Primary
Third prize: ‘Forest of Ash’ by Cara McFarlane, Culbokie Primary
Highly Commended: ‘Killed by Accident’ by Angus Kelly, Croy Primary
Highly Commended: ‘The Land of Silence’ by Rebekah MacPherson, Culbokie Primary
Highly Commended: ‘The Only Survivors’ by Olivia Price, Cawdor Primary
Commended: ‘Silent Night’ by Rachel Forbes, Cawdor Primary
Commended: ‘The Two-Spotted Ladybird’ by Hannah Wemyss, Ben Wyvis Primary
Commended: ‘Spread Your Wings’ by Eilidh Will, Ben Wyvis Primary
The Lydia Michael Prize for the school with the best entries overall: Cawdor Primary
All the winning entries, together with the judges’ comments for each section, can be found by following the links on the right of this page.
High Life Highland and The Neil Gunn Trust thank everyone who entered or assisted with the competition and gratefully acknowledge sponsorship and donations by The Lydia Michael Trust, The Dr David Summers Trust, the Dingwall & Seaforth Ward of The Highland Council, the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Ward of The Highland Council, Glenwyvis Distillery and Rhoda Dunbar
The 2020/21 competition will be launched in September 2020. Full details and entry forms will be available from this website.
Contact for queries
The competition administrator is Charlotte Macarthur, a trustee with the Neil Gunn Trust.
Email (preferred): [email protected]
Tel: 01479 841851
Address for postal queries: Charlotte Macarthur, Neil Gunn Writing Competition, c/o The Library Support Unit, 31a Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UA.
The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is run by the Neil Gunn Trust in partnership with High Life Highland Libraries. Further information on all aspects of the work of the Neil Gunn Trust can be found at www.neilgunntrust.org