Seven of Berkhamsted’s talented writers entered a national poetry competition led by the healthcare charity Kissing it Better.   Each of the uplifting poems aimed to support older people in hospital and care homes during the Covid-19 lockdown.    

John Moore (Year 7) and Isabel Davies (Year 8) were named as joint winners of the age 11-14 category.  John’s poem ‘Spring Gives So Much Love’ and Isabel’s ‘Positivity’ impressed an expert panel.    

Their work was described as ‘amazing creative works’ that will ‘bring cheer to patients and residents’ by the judges including NHS Director of Nursing Fiona Burton and author Annie Ashworth.    

Appreciation and feeling happy

John said “My poem is a message about spring.  After winter, spring gets you ready for summer when everything is starting to lighten up and it get sunnier and warmer.  I just find it quite a nice time.   

“The competition was meant for older people in homes and hospitals to make them feel connected and make them think. I don’t think people appreciate spring and that’s the message I was trying to bring out. Hopefully, when people read the poem they will appreciate spring and feel happier.   

“I have always been interested in writing and making up stories and poems. I like the fact that in English everyone has a different answer to a question. We had a good structure with online learning, but I’m so pleased to able to see all my friends again back at school.”   

The power of poetry

All of the creative work will be displayed in hospital wards throughout Warwickshire as well as locally nominated care homes and healthcare providers.  Berkhamsted School has a tradition of supporting organisations such as Ashyln’s Care Home and the Hospice of St Francis. While student volunteering placements and some fundraising activities are temporarily on hold, the poetry may be displayed with pride.     

The deep-rooted pupil and staff values which include ‘serving others’ has never been more prevalent as during the pandemic. Examples include staff making 250 approved masks during the height of the PPE crisis, volunteering in the community and plenty of fundraising challenges for good causes.    

Berkhamsted’s Head of English Stuart Simon’s said “Extra-curricular writing is a vital space for keen students to explore the freedoms that creative writing afford and these are fine examples of what can be achieved as a result.  There are writing clubs available in clubs and societies and time afforded to honing skills in class, but these pupils have clearly applied themselves to the challenge of the competition and produced some sensational imagery and atmospheres through verse.” 

Kissing it Better launched the art and poetry competition in May, so that young people could use their creativity to enhance the lives of older people. Kissing it Better’s founder, Jill Fraser, praised the quality of the entries: “I’d like to thank all the talented young people who entered, and also our amazing judges, who had a tough job on their hands.”