Young people

Darlington schoolgirl wins Rotary poetry competition

Darlington schoolgirl wins Rotary poetry competition

A poem about rabbits, chocolate and snuggling in her bed has won a seven-year-old Darlington girl a top prize in a Darlington poetry competition.

Abbie Whitaker of Alwent Close entered the Darlington Rotary poetry competition – entitled ‘My Favourite Things’ – and is the winner of the 18 and under age group.

The best of the poems submitted has been published by Darlington Rotary in an anthology and Abbie won a copy of the booklet and a £25 Waterstones gift token, presented to her by the Rotary president, Peter Phillips.

Abbie, a pupil at Mowden School, is the competition’s youngest winner. She lives with mum, Sarah, dad Mark and her 11-year-old sister, Becky.

Poetry writing runs in the family and Sarah also submitted a poem which, although not a winner, also appears in the book.”

Abbie said that the ideas for the poem, which also lists dancing, baking and cake as some of her favourite things, ‘just popped into my head’ when she was composing it.  “I read every day so I’d like to get some storybooks with my gift token,” she said

Sarah said: “We were on holiday in Scotland when we got the news that she had won in her age group. She was so excited and of course, we’re very proud of her.”

Poetry writing runs in the family and Sarah also submitted a poem which, although not a winner, also appears in the book.

Peter said: “We had around 80 poems sent from all over the country – London, Bristol, Hampshire, Newcastle – and we’re delighted that Abbie is a local winner. Her poem was so imaginative and lovely to read.”

There were more than 80 entries to the competition, with the final winners judged by Northern Echo columnist, author and media consultant, Peter Barron OBE.

The winner of the 19 – 39 age group was Amy Luder of Middleton St George and the 40 and over category was won by John Griffiths of Darlington.

The booklet is expected to raise more than £500, all of which goes to mainly local charities and good causes which have been hit hard by the pandemic. Copies, priced at £5 each, can be obtained by emailing dtonrotary@gmail.com.

Abbie’s poem:

My Favourite Things

I like rabbits, and I like cheese
I like dancing and climbing trees,
I like being happy with my friends,
I like dresses and the latest trends
I like chocolate and I like cake!
At the weekend I love to bake.
I like bouncing balloons on my head
But most of all, I like snuggling in my bed!


In Middlesex, James Linton recently took part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Award scheme with Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary.

Sadly, the week-long event in North Wales had to be curtailed because of a positive Covid test from one of the RYLA candidates attending with Rotary in the Thames Valley (District 1090).

James Linton is a writer from London who has been published in a few small publications.

The booklet is expected to raise more than £500, all of which goes to mainly local charities and good causes which have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

He has authored short stories, poetry, travel, and student articles and is working through the first draft of his second novel. He also loves performing his performance poetry at local events.

When he isn’t writing, you can find him rock-climbing, cycling, playing chess or working at his local old people’s home shouting out bingo numbers, leading exercise groups and singing Frank Sinatra very badly.

Rotary President Peter Phillips presents Abbie with her prize, along with mum, Sarah and dad, Mark.















See more of his writing on his website.


Vibing and Thriving (2021)

No doubt Snowdonia was tough,
But we worked like a team
In the dream that is Wales
Some fails, but even more success,
Cos it’s not the result, it’s the process

There was no alienation,
Only cooperation
Because it’s not the destination
It’s the journey.

We all gave helping hands,
Lying on plastic sheet beds
Or under the stars
Like star-crossed lovers

Coming from all walks of life
Carpenter, resuscitation, paramedic
Students of every subject
Merging into the perfect team

Sheep, chickens, goats and cows,
Making vows to stay together
Forever and ever
A chemical romance
Neil and Caroline
Southgate and Three Lions

Fish ‘n’ chips, Weetabix
Fuelling our trek into lands untravelled
And when it all unravelled
Our spirits stayed high
With Nathan’s boombox
Jordan’s odd socks
Slipping on rocks
Battling through rapids,
Raging waterfall

Slowly-sinking raft
Don’t panic,
We’re in our learning zone
Never alone,
We hiked through the green green grass of home
Holding our own under the beating sun

And we had so much fun
Sure we didn’t have two in a canoe
Abseil into the abyss
No orienteering
But we loved our volunteering all the same

Playing table football
Games of trusting
Thrusting Domnika through
Webs of our own design,
Blind through the
Nightline, building tents on trust alone
Sure, it was an early trip home

We started as strangers
Finished as friends
But this isn’t where the journey ends.