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Newport pupil triumphs in National Memorial Arboretum’s poetry competition

Press release   •   Jul 19, 2016 10:01 BST


19 July 2016

Newport pupil triumphs in National Memorial Arboretum’s poetry competition

A student at Newport Girls’ High School in Shropshire has won first prize in a poetry competition launched by the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Emilie Challinor who is in Year 9 at the school in Newport, was the overall winner of the competition, which asked pupils to write a poem inspired by a tree that became a poignant symbol of hope during the Battle of the Somme.

The hornbeam tree was the only one left standing in Delville Wood, in Longueval, northern France, after the area was flattened during two months of heavy fighting, nearly 100 years ago.

Emilie, whose winning poem was entitled ‘A Single Leaf’, was presented with a commemorative hornbeam sapling, a plaque for her school, and The Royal British Legion’s ‘Remember the Battle of the Somme 1916-2016’ toolkit.

During her visit to the 150-acre Arboretum to receive her prizes, Emilie also recited her poem amidst the Hornbeam Copse, which was propagated from the tree left standing at Delville Wood.

The competition had categories for students in KS2, KS3 and KS4, and was judged by a panel including Tom Wyre, Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate 2013-14; Spoz Esposito, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2006/0; Amerah Saleh, a young spoken word artist; Katrice Horsley, National Storytelling Laureate from 2012 – 2014 and Matilda Houston-Brown is currently the Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire and Stoke.

Matilda said, “It was a real honour and it was pretty hard to choose the winner as there was quite a lot of talent! I'm really pleased with the final outcome.”

Tom Wyre, Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate said “It was an absolute delight to get involved as a judge in the Somme 100 poetry competition and no doubt that there will be a number of very proud and pleased entrants in line with the extremely high standard.”

Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director of the Arboretum, said: “The poetry competition was one of many activities and events that we are organising to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

“The competition clearly captured the imagination of pupils and we were very impressed by the high quality of entries. We look forward to continuing to engage with children and young people on this defining event in British military history.”

The National Memorial Arboretum is running a five-month programme of events for people of all ages to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. For details, log on to

Pictured left to right; Ros Garner - Head Teacher Newport Girls’ High School, Emilie Challinor, Student Newport Girls’ High School and Lorna Price - Head of Finance, National Memorial Arboretum.



National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire DE13 7AR,


Andrew Baud, The Royal British Legion: 020 3397 3383

The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round Centre for Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion.

The fundraising campaign is for £15.7m, with just over £10m raised. We have been successful in attracting grants and donations from an array of organisations and individuals, including the Heritage Lottery Fund and Staffordshire County Council.

Sited in the heart of the Nation, with 30,000 maturing trees and over 300 memorials, it is a beautiful and lasting tribute to those who serve their country or who have died in conflict.

Visitors from all walks of life number around 300,000 per year, including Service personnel, veterans, students of all ages, groups and individuals. Over 200 special events are held annually. The Act of Remembrance, including a Silence, is observed daily in the Millennium Chapel.

The Arboretum, situated on land gifted by Tarmac, is home to the striking Armed Forces Memorial* which commemorates those who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism from the end of the Second World War to the present time.

*The Armed Forces Memorial is currently closed for improvement work and will reopen in November 2016. The rest of the site remains fully open with over 300 memorials and 150 acres to explore.