'If I were a tree' - children's writing competition invites entries

The Tree Folk activity stand at last year's Sidmouth Folk Festival

The Tree Folk activity stand at last year's Sidmouth Folk Festival - Credit: Sidmouth Arboretum Project

Primary age children in Sidmouth and the wider local area are being invited to enter a writing competition to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Thousands of trees are being planted to mark the Jubilee, including dozens by Sidmouth Arboretum. For the competition the children are being asked to imagine being one of those trees and think about how it would grow, what it might witness, and how trees make the planet a better place. 

Stories should be no longer than 500 words, can include drawings, and can be submitted through participating primary schools, Sidmouth Library and Ottery St Mary Library, until Friday, June 17. 

Winners will be presented with their prizes on the last day of the Sidmouth Folk Festival, Friday August 5.  

Black and white copy of Mark Hannon's drawing

Black and white copy of Mark Hannon's drawing for colouring in by the children - Credit: Mark Hannon'

Two artists, children’s illustrator Mark Hannon and Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband, have created tree drawings to inspire the children. There are copies in black and white that can be coloured in and a colour version, signed framed copies of which will be presented to the story winners. 

Colour version of the drawing by Tony Husband

Colour version of the drawing by Tony Husband - Credit: Tony Husband

Sidmouth Science Festival, through the Arboretum Project, is again providing family activities at this year’s Sidmouth Folk Festival. Children’s author Jo Earlam is helping to organise the competition and will be one of the storytellers on the Arboretum’s Tree Folk stand at the Folk Festival. 

She said: “Last year’s competition on the theme of thinking about the footprint we all leave on the planet generated such creativity in the children’s stories that we wanted to repeat that way of engaging their imagination.  

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“Trees and the Queen’s Jubilee seemed a perfect topic for this year. It was Arboretum member Ed Dolphin who came up with the great idea of children imagining they were an actual tree, which offers so many opportunities for original writing.” 

The writing competition will be judged by Tracey and Simon West of the East Devon based international environmental charity The Word Forest Organisation. CEO Tracey said: “It's easy to help our planet be well by planting trees and growing flowers that help birds, bees, and wildlife to thrive. Have a think about what you can do this year to help Mother Nature take care of our whole world - she needs you!”