Hay Charter writing competition winners

We're telling the story of trees and woods at Hay Festival (Photo: WTML)

Thank you to everyone who entered our Hay Festival writing competition – we really enjoyed reading all about the trees you love.

Your stories will help us shape our new Charter for Woods, Trees and People which is launching in 2017.

The lucky winners of an iPad for their school were Joshua Mainland from Percy Main Primary School, North Shields (KS2) and Charlotte Meers from Springburn Academy in Glasgow (KS3). Masie Jones from Redland High Junior School in Bristol was awarded a special prize for the quality of her creative writing and wins some books for her school library by Charter Champions, Jackie Morris and Julia Green.

Joshua Mainland - KS2

The judges said: "This story reflects how trees have real personalities for those who spend time with them. We love the way that the tree’s physical features are described, and how they inspire the game played by the students. Finally, it is lovely how Joshua considers how the tree will remain and become part of the lives of the younger students at the school, linking the past and present."

Trees in my school have special memories, some more than others.

One specific tree has always stood on the hill: tall, straight and sturdy. When I was younger my friends and I were looking for a place to hide; this tree was the perfect place, concealing us in the bushes behind it. As we crouched close to the ground we saw a 3D mark on the rough, scaly bark. We were curious, wondering what it was, therefore we crept silently towards it. When we arrived, to our surprise we realised it was a Scooby snack sticker. From that moment on we decided in our free time this was to be our meeting spot and since that special day we have always called it the Scooby Tree. After naming the tree we were inspired to create a game of Scooby Doo; where one person would hide while making noises or leaving clues as to their position. The rest of the group would all look for the ‘criminal’ and then another person would hide. The tree’s thick, strong branches would bend down around us, cuddling the criminal, while a blanket of lush, green leaves hid our position. We played this game (creating special memories) for hours on end however when the bell rang it always felt no more than two minutes had passed.

Over the years, between the ground and the clouds Scooby developed. His arms grew longer; his trunk sprouted reaching the sky. Eventually he seemed to be as tall as a giant and as wide as a house. As the wind blew his arms still bent around us hugging us like an old friend. His leaves rustled like a gigantic rain coat protecting us from every storm. When it snowed a thick blanket covered him. In the summer sun he provided cool shade where we would talk about our next lesson and dream of long, lazy summer holidays. Sometimes at break and lunch time we hunted for twigs and branches scavenging on the ground then making a den around him. We always added on to our hideout, occasionally making nests for the birds. When we were feeling livelier we would play hide and seek then crawl back into his comforting arms. As time passed we grew together remaining lifelong friends.

Today the Scooby Tree stands as straight as a soldier, sturdier that ever. He is still very important to us providing a familiar, safe haven to play in and around. Even though he has a battle scar we hope he is still loved when we all leave for high school. We are filled with joy to see Scooby being used by our younger children for games as we all know other memories are being created around him forever.

Goodbye old friend, we will miss you dearly.

Charlotte Meers – KS3

The judges said: "Charlotte gives a beautiful account of her personal connection to the tree, while also showing great wisdom in considering how it links people who have never met but who also feel a connection with the same tree."

Familiarity is something that everyone likes. My favourite tree is always there. When I wake up, it’s there. When I go to sleep at night, it’s there. A tall oak tree rests outside my bedroom window. I look outside my window every day and watch my tree. This makes me feel calm as it is something that is familiar and consistent to me.

My tree is a work of art – it is tall and stands out as a landmark in my area. It provides detail in a bare landscape.

My tree provides both light and shade. The leaves allow for light to shine through but if you stand close to the trunk, you will be protected from the sun.

My tree shares a lot of memories with me and has helped me to think about new ideas. For example, when I complete school projects, I look at my tree for ideas.

My tree also shares memories of others. I live near restaurants which are visited by tourists who regularly take pictures beside my tree.

My tree is also a home to animals. It provides a space for insects and birds to live and visit. This is important because it means that wildlife has a safe space to grow.

My tree is important to my local community. We have held fundraising stalls under this tree and have raised money for different causes.

My tree will always stay with me as an important memory as it is part of my childhood.

Masie Jones – Special award

The judges said: "Maisie has created a magical fable which beautifully explores the way that a tree can feel like a companion rather than an object in the landscape as it grows alongside you. The themes of loss and rebirth through the generations are wonderfully brought out at the end."

The sizzling sun was shining, the clouds as white as doves. It was summer and everything was flowing beautifully. There were flowers showing off, looking the prettiest and stretching their petals. The paradise of the garden was astonishing, the trees dancing around in the breeze.

Emily was a young, adventurous girl. She had long golden hair that flew down her waist. Every morning she would run down to the glistening lake and brush her hair looking into it as a tinted blue mirror. Butterflies circled her head. Emily loved that feeling and hoped it would never end. Emily strolled through the dewy, short grass up to the magnificent apple tree. It was Emily’s favourite tree in the whole world! Every day Emily would wander up to the apple tree and pick some of the delicious rosy-coloured apples that were awaiting her. She would carry some home to her mother and father and feed a couple to the chirping, hungry birds on the way. I’m going to let you into a little secret. Every time Emily eats an apple, her hair grows the length of that apple! The mysterious and majestic apple tree was indeed magical! Sometimes Emily would just sit at the top of the tree and watch the birds peck at the soil, picking out worms that were as terrified as ever.

One day, just like any other day, Emily gracefully skipped up to the lake, which was as calm as the scorching sun up above. She brushed her hair and washed her face then excitedly crept up to the high, surrounding bushes. Emily pushed her way through and saw not emerald, sprouting leaves but a brown, barky stump! Her smile faded away as quick as a flash. Somehow the apple tree had been cut down and taken away. All that was left of the tree were some dying, brown leaves and snapped branches. Emily ran over and slumped down onto the splintering remains of her beloved tree. She started crying, her tears watering the flowers beneath her. Instead of being grateful for a drink, the flowers drooped in sadness. So many questions filled Emily’s head.

"Why would somebody do this to the wonderful apple tree? ‘Who was responsible? How could someone be so cruel?"

Time is a great healer, and with time Emily began to accept the fate of her poor, lost companion. New life will always find a way and Emily’s paradise wouldn’t stay empty for long. A small shoot emerged from the seed that lay hidden beneath the ground. A seed that had once fallen from an apple that Emily had eaten. Many, many years later, a little girl rushes down to the water’s edge and brushes her long, golden hair in the shimmering reflection. She turns to the young and vibrant apple tree beside her. Happily she reaches for a rosy-coloured fruit. With each apple she eats her hair begins to grow, just like her grandmother’s had all those years before.

All schools that entered will be awarded two points on the Green Tree Schools Award. Find out more about the Green Trees Schools award

Green Tree Schools Award

Child with gold Green Tree Schools Award plaque

Celebrate woods and trees with our Green Tree Schools Award. Earn points for completing activities and collect rewards for your school. It's great fun and completely free.

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