Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2021/22

Neil Gunn Writing Competition logo

The Neil Gunn Writing Competition : 2021/22 Winners

This biennial competition is organised by The Neil Gunn Trust in partnership with High Life Highland. The lead judge for this, the 16th competition was the distinguished author and patron of the Neil Gunn Trust, James Robertson.

The competition has 4 sections – Adult Short Story and Adult Poetry open to writers worldwide; the Secondary (S3-S6) and Primary (P5-P7) Schools sections open to pupils attending Highland Council schools. The competition themes are quotes from Neil Gunn’s writing.

Results for all sections:

Adult Poetry section

Joint first place

Third place

Highly Commended


Adult poetry winners judges’ presentation.

Adult Short Story section

First place

Second equal


Adult short story winners judges’ presentation.

Secondary Schools section

First place

  • Birdsong by Mhairi MacColl, Lochaber High

Second place

Third place


Secondary schools winners judges’ presentation.

Primary Schools section

First place

Second place

Third place

Highly commended


Award for Best School Entries Overall

  • Jointly won by St. Joseph’s Primary school and Abernethy Primary School

Primary school winners judges’ presentation.

The themes for 2021/22:

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

Adult Poetry and Short Story sections

The Adult Poetry section and Adult Short Story section were open to all writers worldwide.  The writing was inspired by one of the following quotes from works by Neil Gunn: –

  • “Wild Geese Overhead” (book title)
  • “But already, behind, the new wave was gathering volume, massing itself, steadily advancing.” (Morning Tide)

Secondary schools (S3-S6)

The schools’ sections are open to pupils in selected year groups who attend Highland Council schools.

The secondary section is open to pupils from S3 – S6, whose writing was inspired by one of the following quotes: –

  • “They turned from the known world behind and faced the moors”. (Highland River)
  • “It was very quiet, with a quietness that was tall and far, delicate as a leaf, and soft-footed as the grass.” (The Well at the World’s End”)

Primary schools (P5-P7)

The primary section is open to pupils from P5 – P7, whose writing should be inspired by the following quote: –

  • “It is a terrible thing to be bursting with a secret you can’t tell.” (Young Art and Old Hector)

High Life Highland and The Neil Gunn Trust thank everyone who entered or assisted with the competition and gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance provided by individual supporters and the following organisations:  The Highland Council Wards 5 and 8, the Dr David Summers Trust and the Lydia Michael Trust.

Contact us

For all enquiries about the competition, please email [email protected] or telephone the Library Support Unit on 01349 781340.

Further information on the work of the Neil Gunn Trust can be found at

High Life Highland The Lydia Michael Trust logo The Highland Council