Malawian student John Samson, 13, from the Jacaranda School for Orphans, has been named the Junior winner of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s 2012 Commonwealth Essay Competition.
John’s essay, entitled The Day I Wore My Best Clothes, beat stiff competition from more than 8,000 entrants from around the Commonwealth to take the top prize.
The Junior category runner-up was Celine Cassar from Malta.
Jacaranda founder and CNN awardee Marie da Silva said Samson lost his parents in 2009 and wrote the story from his experience.
The theme of the competition was ‘Connecting Cultures’ – this year’s Commonwealth theme – and many participants were encouraged to submit their essays online through the RCS’s Jubilee Time Capsule site.
The judging panel said of John’s entry: “This is a heart-warming, moving, authentic and unsentimental account of the reality of being an orphan in Malawi. It resonates with the reader and has a timeless quality. Whilst intensely personal, the story also conveys a sense of the wider context in which it takes place.”
The Essay Competition was founded in 1883, making it the world’s oldest and largest schools’ writing contest. It is part of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s annual Young Commonwealth Competitionswhich also include photography and film categories.
This year, the winners of the essay competition will be represented in the Jubilee Time Capsule, an online educational project to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The 60 best entries will be drawn together to form the ‘Diamond (re)Collection’, which will be given to The Queen later this year.
John’s essay will be part of the Diamond (re)Collection given to The Queen in November, and later housed in the Royal Collection.