500 Bright Words: meet the runners up

cartoon of writing

Last week we announced the winner of the 500 Bright Words competition, an essay writing competition which formed part of our Keeping in Touch Initiative when schools were closed.

The Legendary Loo Roll by Jayden Seributra won the hearts of the judges and came in first place. This week we are announcing the second and third prize holders.

second place - what the judges had to say...

Second Place medal

Second place goes to Bright World Guardianships student Sam Zang who wrote a terrific story called Hope on the Strings. One our judges, Bright World Local Coordinator, Sarah Bozier described it as:  

An honest, emotional personal account which brought a tear to my eye. Sam expertly depicted the harsh reality that the impact of dealing with an epidemic can have on doctors and medical staff working on the front line and how this affects their families. Throughout his detailed account of events, the pride and worry Sam felt for his Dad shone through. Whilst reading his entry, I felt like I was experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions with him. Having a shared passion for music, was a way to cope with events in his life. Amid the Covid 19 crisis, music seems to have played an integral role in lifting spirits; helping us manage stress; giving Sam a purpose and connecting him with his Dad. Such a strong message to end with that really resonated with me that ‘hope, kindness, selflessness and positivity are our greatest weapon.’ 

Hope on the Strings by Sam Zeng

Violin watercolour

If you ask me, what is the most important thing I learned during this outbreak of the coronavirus? It is that taking responsibility within the society is important, and you may feel that as well. There are lots of people, before this outbreak, who were not fully aware of the significance of doctors and nurses in the society. Very often, going to the hospital results patients having a horrid experience, would also leave people bad impressions on doctors. There are numerous tales of how kids ended up in the hospitals, and also parents sometimes would say things like this:

‘Behave yourself, or you’ll have to see the doctor’. Well, I’m not afraid of that, as that is the situation which I face at home every day. Why? Because my father is a doctor.

My dad is very capable and meticulous. At home, he takes great care of me and my mom. He is good-natured, not like some typical parents, he isn’t volatile, nor too meticulous and aiming perfectly for everything. He treats things deliberately, though, and I infer that his personalities are shaped by his job as a doctor. He is also very persistent as well, with the spirit of ‘never give up’. At that moment, I still didn’t understand how he benefitted from his characters during work. After dinner, he assisted me with my music practice; every day. Although sometimes he would also lose his temper, most of the time he stood beside me tranquilly. However, one day his attitude remarkably differed from before. It was one day after the total outbreak of the coronavirus, as a doctor, he needed to work in the hospital restlessly until very late. That day he came home eight o’clock at night, and the smile he usually wore on his face disappeared. He was surely more sullen than habitual, with a taste of pessimism. I wondered what occurrence could totally change a man in such short time. He looked so withdrawn and hardly talked anymore, though I could feel that something wasn’t right.

That night, as he watched me practice violin, he ceased to prick up ears on every note I played, but rather gazed at the air. His eyes showed a vacant expression, as I observed, he was deep into his thoughts. I started paying less attention on my movements, and accidentally pressed a wrong note. The dissonance of the music dragged him back to reality. He noticed that I wasn’t paying full attention to the piece, and surprisingly, it made him cross. I was very upset, worried, but still wondered what gave him such a bad mood. I went to bed early that night, straight after I finished my practice. Sounds from downstairs tickled my ears. I picked on it, despite the conversation between dad and mom, I also heard the sound of packing.

Next morning, he left faster than I realized. I asked mom where dad was going, but received no answer. Later that day, I saw on TV that my father went together with a team of doctors and experts to go to Wuhan to support, as that was the most severe region of the pandemic. I realized that this meant I wouldn’t be able to see my father again for weeks, or even months, besides that, nobody knew how the situation might develop. I felt despair.

Nevertheless, as time moved on, things changed. Two days after his leave, he sent back a video, supporting me, mother, my friends and teachers at the music studio where I study music. This kind help from father promoted and encouraged me, while my attitude towards it started to change. My appreciation grew day by day as people cheered for us, and thanked us. My teacher also suggested to hold an online concert for my father- what a brilliant idea! I recognised that I wasn’t alone, and we fought together. My gratefulness towards everybody couldn’t be described with words. I became more hopeful as their promotion gave me power and confidence.

Music is amazing, isn’t it? I found it really appealing. No matter where and when, as long as I started playing it, it seemed that I had forgotten all my anxieties, and the music was the only thing left in the world. I practiced hard, it was quite tiring. My greatest wish was to fancy my father on the concert. In my heart, he is a great man for on and always. Practicing was painful, but music’s unique power eased my pain.

Each time I played the piece, it sounded more beautiful than the last. I was improving. Thankfully, the situation was improving as well. Each day I watched the news, hoping to hear any information about my father’s return. I was glad to learn that the number of infections of the coronavirus was reducing in Wuhan, as more people were healed. That was absolutely great news. I continued practicing to make sure that I was ready for the concert, and to surprise my dad.

The concert was held soon, and my performance turned out to be very successful. My father sent me a message, congratulating me and told me how I made him proud. It was awesome. I realised how my hard work won appreciation from others. I was proud of my father as well, as he was a great man who constantly gave his son hope, even at the most difficult time.

For now, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world, while the total number of infections has reached approximately three million. Please always remember that no winter shall not pass. Hope, is always our best weapon.

third place - the judge's verdict

Third Place medal

And now for the third place entry, we are very pleased to say that Vicky Sun has won third place – with Positive and Real.

Sarah's judgement on this was to describe the essay as:  An uplifting, positive personal account of how Vicky overcame and dealt with the challenge of being separated from loved ones due to the restrictions enforced to minimise the devastation caused by the virus. Despite being in such a difficult situation, she had such a mature attitude and coped with the circumstances admirably. What an incredible message she conveyed from her own experiences of the Coronavirus. It reminded me as the reader to remember that we should appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life like throwing a frisbee. I think many people could also identify with what Vicky went through in their own lives.

Positive and Real by Vicky Sun 

Playing frisbee

My name is Vicky. I am a Year 7 student. I know since December last year, the coronavirus has led the world into the unknown. The virus is the devil who entered our beautiful world without warning us. How cruel! People seem so tiny and helpless under the big devil. Some people are so scared, some people are tired of their life, some of them even don't care about it anymore. The horrible virus has captured our world. However, we need to keep positive.

There needs to be a fire, burning deeply in your heart. This little fire can be very powerful and it might be your personal support from this event. We, who have lived over the thousands of years, can't be pushed down. Everyone should stand up and face the world. When I look up to the wide open sky, I feel like the sky is just like parents hugging and calming their children from this noisy world. The trees, the flowers and even the birds are still singing beautifully and bravely. If you look closer to the focused world, nothing has changed. What I want to say is not to think about this virus too much. Staying interested in this excited world.

I was supposed to go back to China during the Easter Holiday and meet my parents, but I didn’t go back. I was so desperate to go back home, but my parents said to me “It is the safest way for you to stay in the UK. The distance won’t keep us apart. We can still face-time each other. We miss you so much!” I thought about this sentence for a long time and I decided that I will stay happy and healthy in the UK. I won’t let my parents worry about me, even though I still miss them so much. In my guardian family, we often go out and have a walk, it can help me to relax after a busy day of studying. I also play frisbee and do some running with my guardian. We are still very happy. Sometimes, we play normal catch and throw. Sometimes, we play “piggy in the middle” which I taught my guardian. “Piggy in the middle” is a pretty tiring game to play. The first time we have tried this game was so hard, but also remarkable. I was the piggy who stood in the middle. I needed to try to catch the Frisbee while they were passing each other. “Keep marking, keep marking” I said to myself. After a few times of trying, I have caught my first Frisbee under the boiling sunshine. The joy in my body suddenly came out like a rocket. I jumped so high that I could touch the sky. This is probably where my happiness comes from! We enjoy the simplest happiness that the environment gives us and also whenever I catch the Frisbee.

Over the last few months, we didn’t stop the devil; it is not our fault. We didn’t find any vaccine; it is not our fault. However, if we don’t keep positive, it is our fault; if we become so depressed, it is our fault. So everyone, let’s bring our happiness all over the world to ourselves, to other people and face this changeable but wonderful world.

Listen to our 500 Bright Words Podcast

Bright sounds

Listen to Jenny Rumble and James Foster reading the two runner up entries.

a reminder of the winning entry

The Legendary Loo Roll by Jayden Seributra

DING! My phone chimed. I quickly pulled it out of my pocket and a text from my mum who was at the hospital, potentially tending to coronavirus patients had appeared. It read: Harry, don’t forget to clean up the loft. I sighed and turned the TV off. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and by the time I got to the top, I was out of breath. I probably ate too many biscuits today! The loft smelled of unspeakable things. In front of a windowpane, there was a chest hidden away by garbage bags. I had to hold my nose as I opened the chest. It creaked open with a click. Inside was an ancient tome. Beside it, was a loo roll. A LOO ROLL! Yes, you heard that right, a loo roll! I picked up the tome and blew the dust off and nearly died of allergy to dust. Imagine that, death by a book! I skimmed to the last page of the tome and it read: ‘The roll contains an incredible amount of power, use it wisely.’ I pointed at the roll.

“Activate.” Nothing. It wasn't working. I needed to find out a way to start it. Suddenly, something came crashing through the loft, sending shards of woods flying everywhere. I was sent sprawling on the ground. My eyes were full of dust and I could barely see. I crawled to a corner desperately, trailing my hand along the wall for guidance. I backed up in the corner and looked up. A figure clad in a black robe. He strode over to me, reached for his leg strap and pulled out a pocket knife which menacingly snapped open. The figure spoke. A raspy voice.

“Give it to me.” I looked at the man, puzzled.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for!” He snarled and brought his knife to my throat.

“The Legendary Loo Roll! Give it!” I laughed.

“Oh, that?” I pointed to the chest. “Yeah, have it.” He walked over to the chest and knelt. The chest opened with a familiar click. A gasp.

“I have found it at last!” He then raised his knife as if to stab the roll. I silently tiptoed over to behind him and kicked his bum. He was sent crashing through the window and down to the ground below. I winced as I heard him hit the ground and his bones cracking.

“AGH!” The roll sprang to life. “Thank you for saving my life! I am now bound to you in a contract and have to grant you a wish. Yay.” The roll said in a deadpan voice. I looked at the roll in utter disbelief.

“Y-You can speak?” I could feel the roll’s frustration vibrate.

“Yes, you idiot! I am the Legendary Loo Roll! I just told you that I can grant you one wish and that’s the first thing you say?”

“Oh, yeah.” Hours ticked by as I thought long and hard. I want to make a difference by distributing positive energy in the world. Through these hard times, we need to support each other so; “I wish for people to find compassion and kindness in themselves to give it to each other”.

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