We are delighted to have not just one but two competition winners! The Dark Skies Poetry competition was part of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, which ran for two weeks at the end of October. Events including night walks, family discovery events and planetarium sessions, were attended by over 3000 people.
Jonah Kettleborough, one of our Fox Class entrants, won the under 11 category with James Allenby from St Dubricius School, Porlock and Lyla Poole from Williton, with his poem based on seeing the stars on Exmoor.
It was also a delight to tell Mrs Rudd, Fox Class teacher, that she won the over 16s category with her poem about The Plough constellation! She said: “I’m really pleased to win a prize, it was great fun doing poetry with the children and watching their ideas blossom. They created some really inspiring poetry and I never thought in a light year that I’d win! It’s wonderful to share the applause with Jonah as he wrote such a great poem.” You can see both their poems in the gallery below.
Katrina Munro at Exmoor National Park Authority, who coordinated the festival, said: “We were delighted that so many people took the time to write and submit a poem. The tranquillity of the darkness, and the stars, moon and planets are such a source of inspiration for all ages. It’s important that people appreciate the significance of dark skies to our understanding of our place in the universe, as well as for our night-time creatures.”
Exmoor National Park is a designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark- Sky Association (IDA). Planning restrictions and lighting recommendations are used to help protect the area from any increases in light pollution, which can have an adverse effect on the environment and wildlife.
The entries were judged by poet Mark Totterdell, whose latest book of poems titled ‘Mapping’ is available from www.indigodreams.co.uk. Mark said: “I enjoyed having the opportunity to read all these poems, and it was very hard to pick the winners from over three hundred entries. Many of the poems contained striking images and memorable phrases that stuck in my mind and vividly transported me to the moor at night.”
There were ten winners spread over three age categories. As well as having their entries placed on public display in the National Park Centres at Lynmouth, Dulverton and Dunster, the poets will also receive a dark skies goodie bag including a Glow in the Dark beanie hat from competition sponsors Sunday Afternoons UK and astronomy prizes from Astronomy Now magazine.
Winners in the under 11 category will also receive a signed copy of the newly published book ‘Jacob Starke Loves The Dark’, by Peta Rainford, who used to live on Exmoor. The book is on sale at the National Park Centres.
The winners are:
- Under 11’s category - James Allenby from St Dubricius School, Porlock, Jonah Kettleborough from Bampton School, and Lyla Poole from Williton.
- 11-15’s category - Zach Spelman and Bet Melton-Baguley, from Ilfracombe Academy, and Henry Earp, from Kings Hall Taunton.
- Adult category - Angie Butler, from Penzance, David Tilley, from Withypool and Rachel Rudd, from Barnstaple.