Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2016-17

This biennial competition is organised by The Neil Gunn Trust in partnership with High Life Highland.  We are especially delighted that the lead judge for this, the 14th competition, was the author Michel Faber, as he is himself a former winner of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition.

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.


For all sections, the themes are quotes from Neil Gunn’s writing.

Adult Poetry and Short Story sections

This year there was a choice of two themes in the adult sections.

  1. “Knowledge is high in the head, but the salmon of wisdom swims deep” (The Green Isle of the Great Deep)
  2. “Wrong is a difficult word”(Young Art and Old Hector)

Secondary schools (S3-S6)

“He loved the darkness.” (Highland River)

Primary schools (P5-P7)

“He was wakened by a loud knocking at the door.”  (The Well at the World’s End)


Results of the 2016/17 Neil Gunn Writing Competition

The award ceremony took place on Friday 16th June at Dingwall Academy. The prizes were presented by the lead judge Michel Faber.

Prizewinners from both adult sections of the competition
with judges Michel Faber and Ann Yule

Adult Poetry section

First prize: ‘Pennyroyal’ by Jacqueline Thompson

Second prize: ‘My Brother and Mother Sit with Me as Horses’ by Claire Williamson

Third prize: ‘Back Door’ by Ian McDonough

Highly Commended: ‘Still’ by Lucy Duggan

Commended: ‘The Dead Mole’ by A. F. Paterson

Commended:  ‘A Son of Saint Elegius’ by Lynn Valentine

Click here to read the judges comments.

Adult Short Story section

First prize: ‘On the Hill’ by Richard Bennett

Second prize: ‘Oh, to Shake the Magic Eight-Ball’ by D. R. D. Bruton

Third prize: ‘On an Earth Uniformly Covered by Sea’ by Laura Morgan

Commended: ‘The Fank’ by Martin Campbell

Commended: ‘The Convoy’ by Mary Paterson

Commended: ‘The Coat We Do Not Wear’ by Karen Hodgson Pryce

Commended:  ‘Cullen Skink’ by Kenneth Steven

Click here to read the judges comments.

Secondary Schools section

First prize: ‘The Darkness’ by Rachel Desmond, Millburn Academy

Second prize: ‘Selfish’ by Imogen James, Glenurquhart High School

Third prize: ‘Theory’ by Adam Weir, Dornoch Academy

Highly Commended: ‘The Silent Musician’ by Christina Hitchmough, Culloden Academy

Highly Commended: ‘He Sits’ by Aurora MacPherson, Dingwall Academy

Highly Commended: ‘The Peat Stack’ by Donald Morrison, Millburn Academy

Commended: ‘The Spirit of the Mountainside’ by Tomos Dargie, Fortrose Academy

Commended: ‘State of Mind’ by Abbie Lamond, Millburn Academy

Commended: ‘No Man’s Sky’ by Caitlin-Jane Lockhart, Millburn Academy

Commended: ‘The Night in Dusseldorf’ by Daniel McKay, Millburn Academy

The Neil Gunn Trust Prize for the school with the best entries overall: Millburn Academy

Click here to read the judges comments.

NGWC Secondary Prize Winners 2017

Secondary school winners

Primary Schools section

First prize: ‘The Flies’ by Millie Wood, Helmsdale Primary

Second prize: ‘Lost’ by Alexander Koprulu, Croy Primary

Third prize: ‘Home?’ by Louise Tod, Castletown Primary

Highly Commended: ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ by Matthew Halle, Castletown Primary

Highly Commended: ‘Seven Red Houses’ by Fern Mohan, Craighill Primary

Highly Commended: ‘The Wide Wide Window’ by Pippa O’Neil, Smithton Primary

Highly Commended: ‘Evacuation’ by Rachel Pearson, Castletown Primary

Commended: ‘Mascot’ by Callum Craig, Auldearn Primary

Commended: ‘Abigail MacDonald’ by Hannah Loughray, Spean Bridge Primary

Commended: ‘The Legend of Marlos’ by Jake Sessions, Spean Bridge Primary

Commended: ‘The Magical, Mythical Forest’ by Robert Sutherland, Craighill Primary

The Lydia Michael Prize for the school with the best entries overall: Castletown Primary

Click here to read the judges comments.

Primary school section winners with judges Michel Faber and Janet Macinnes

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, Dingwall & Seaforth Ward of The Highland Council, Glenwyvis Distillery, Dr David Summers Trust and Rhoda Dunbar

The 2018/19 competition will be launched in September 2018.  Full details and entry forms will be available from this website.


Contact for queries

Charlotte Macarthur, High Life Highland and The Neil Gunn Trust

Email (preferred): [email protected] Tel: 01479 841851

Address for postal queries: Charlotte Macarthur, Neil Gunn Writing Competition, Library Support Unit, 31a Harbour Rd, INVERNESS, Scotland, IV1 1UA


We gratefully acknowledge sponsorship and donations from the following organisations:

The Lydia Michael Trust; The Highland Council Dingwall & Seaforth Ward Councillors; Dr David Summers’ Charitable Trust; GlenWyvis Distillery; Mrs Rhoda Dunbar

High Life Highland The Highland Council


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