Writer in running for Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year

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A NORTHALLERTON College pupil was longlisted today for Amnesty International’s Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year award.

Lucy Watkiss, 15, from Rowans Way, will now have her work judged by a panel of editors, authors and industry professionals including mutli-awarding Guardian journalist Ian Cobain, renowned author Anna Perera and television celebrity Danny Bartlett.

More than 3,000 children from all four corners of the United Kingdom took part in the prestigious competition, which is being run by Amnesty International UK, the Guardian and the secondary school magazine SecEd. Only 10 entries from each of the four age categories have been selected to go to the judging panel.

Lucy, who wrote about the civil war in Sudan, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been long-listed for this award. I became aware of the situation in South Sudan during a geography lesson and after reading some more was inspired to write my article on the subject

“ I was incredibly shocked and saddened that after the promise of peace that came with South Sudan’s recent independence, violence and terror still dominate and deny people basic human rights, whilst any action taken to prevent the conflict has had little effect.”

Lucy’s parents, 51-year-old store manager Michael Watkiss and 45-year-old HR manager Helen Watkiss, said: “We are thrilled that Lucy has been long listed for Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year. She has shown an interest in journalism for some years now and reading her article heightened our awareness of the plight of South Sudan.”

Trevor Starkey, assistant principal at Northallerton College, said: “Lucy has learnt a lot through this challenge, about a region in central Africa, developed her writing skills and her understanding of the role of the media. To be in the top 10 is a smashing reward. She hasn’t stopped grinning for the last few days on hearing the news. I am of course absolutely delighted with her success.”

Pete Henshaw, editor of SecEd, was involved in the longlisting process and added: “This article effectively tackles the ongoing problems of civil war and persecution in Sudan. Starting with a good summary of the background and some eye-opening statistics, the article serves to remind us why we should not believe that all is now well in Sudan. Quotes from victims of persecution and the writer’s own opinion are interweaved well.”

The top three from each category will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony held at Amnesty International UK’s headquarters on 9 May, where the winner will be announced.

The winner’s work will then be showcased at the organisation’s annual Media Awards in central London in front of an audience of over 400 of the nation’s top media figures on 29 May.

The winner will receive a goodie bag from Amnesty International, The Guardian and SecEd.

There are four categories: Upper Primary, Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary and Sixth form.

Children agedseven-14 were asked to write an article or report of between 200 and 250 words on a human rights-related issue. Those in the two older categories were asked to write an article of up to 500 words in length.