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BBC Radio 2 '500 Words' Bronze winner

Congratulations Francesca - we are really proud of you!

Francesca, aged seven, who is a pupil at Hilden Oaks,  was the Bronze winner in the 5 – 9 years category of this year’s BBC Radio 2’s, 500 Words competition!

The fifty-six finalists of the nationwide competition, which initially attracted over 134,000 entries, were invited to attend the final, which took place during the Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show on Friday 8th June, live from Hampton Court Palace in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, together with a host of celebrities.

Francesca was amazed and delighted that her story was selected as one of only six winners.  Her award was presented by comedian Dara O’Briain, who also read out her story, “Agent Ramsbottom & the Mysterious Fish and Chips” (click to read) capturing all of the intended humour.

Judge, Frank Cottrell Boyce commented, “We loved this story’s swaggering, bonkers humour and the fact that somehow an important and timely message about the environment came tumbling out of its madness!”

Fellow judge Francesca Simon added, “What an incredibly wacky and wonderful world created!”

After receiving her award, Francesca was interviewed live on BBC Breakfast television.

In addition to winning a printed book of all six stories with the judges comments, Francesca will also receive her height in books.  On the day, all the prize winners were treated to a drive around Hampton Court grounds in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ with Chris Evans and the Duchess of Cornwall.  This was a particular highlight for Francesca who was also allowed to steer Chitty for a short while.  They then sailed up the Thames on the Royal Row Barge, Gloriana and spent time chatting to the judges and celebrity readers from the competition, including David Walliams, Francesca Simon, Malory Blackman, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Charlie Higson, Jason Isaacs, Shobna Gulati, Amanda Abbingdon, and Jim Broadbent.

Francesca loves reading and listening to stories and is particularly drawn to ones which make her laugh.  She said,  “ I wrote this story as a school half-term homework project and was inspired by Lindsey Russell’s trip to the sewers beneath London, on Blue Peter”.

Since winning the award, she has received an open letter from Lanes Group plc, who clear out the fatbergs from London’s Sewers, thanking her for highlighting the importance of their work. 

Francesca has been fired up by the competition and perhaps will one day follow in the footsteps of   E M Forster, the famous author & novelist, who once lived in the house now occupied by Hilden Oaks School. However, Francesca is not sure about her future in writing as she considers it to be “very hard work!”

Well done Francesca!