Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2018/19

Neil Gunn Writing Competition logo

The 15th Neil Gunn Writing Competition : 2018/19 Winners

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.

All Winners

Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2018/19 School Winners.

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.

  1. “Suddenly something came out of the land, some cool shiver of Spring” (The Serpent)
  2. “…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)
NGWC 1st Prize Winners from all Sections

1st Prize Winners from all sections from left to right: Susan Grant, Pollaidh Astley, Tomos Dargie, Sheila Templeton.

Results of the 2018/19 Neil Gunn Writing Competition

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

Commended:  ‘The So Anyways of Fair Isle Knitting’ by Jill Munro

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

Primary winners judge’s presentation.


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

High Life Highland The Highland Council