Every year Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland runs competitions to encourage and promote the talents of young people in schools, and the first rounds of these competitions take place within individual schools just before Christmas.

Local Rotary clubs sponsor these competitions, and North Cotswolds Rotary and Rotary in the Rissingtons have been involved in judging the Young Writer, Young Photographer, and Young Environmentalist competitions at The Cotswold School, the latter a new competition this year.

The theme this year for the Young Writers was ‘Connections’, leaving considerable scope for those who entered to use their imagination. Topics varied widely, from a piece by the intermediate age group winner about one of the earliest Ferraris that lost its wheels in a race and many years later was rebuilt and reunited with them, to stories about family strife, and a well-researched story about the connection felt between a young indigenous girl living in the Amazon forests, and how keenly she felt a sense of loss as the forests were cut down. The results of the Young Writer competition were as follows: Seniors (14 to 17 years): Winner, Rhiannon Ashby; Highly Commended, Isobel Hall. Intermediates (11 to 13): Winner, Ben Murray; 2= Alexa Butterfield and Reuben West; Highly Commended, Joseph Barnard, Alex Etherington, Jocelyn Jeary, Anwen Marshall, Aelspeth Morray, and Anna Wilks.

‘Through My Eyes’ was the theme to exercise the imagination of the Young Photographers, who each had to produce a portfolio of three photos accompanied by a short sentence describing the relationship of each photo to the theme.

The winner of the Senior age group, Lila Murray, produced an impressively sharp and well composed set of three black and white prints of cats. In second place was Charlie Dodridge whose pictures of reflections greatly impressed the judges, and third was Isla Mackintosh with a pleasing set of colourful landscapes. Verity Oxford and Benjamin Bright were highly commended, the latter for his sharp and clear animal safari pictures. Arthur Mackintosh, winner of the intermediate age group, produced a stunning picture of reflections through a cast iron gate to go with his two other woodland pictures. Henry Hunt, second, entered three very different photos, one of which was of braille as if ‘through my eyes’. In third place was Lula Thorpe with pictures of Paris, and Imogen Lawrence was highly commended.

New this year, and in keeping with growing concern for the state of our planet, was the Young Environmentalist competition open to individuals or teams of up to four. Students were required to investigate, research, and undertake an environmental sustainability project on the theme of Waste Minimisation.The Senior age group winner, Rebecca Fulford, carried out an interesting project measuring emissions from school buses whose engines are left idling for ten minutes or more while waiting for students to board. The results were later sent to the

local bus company, which responded to say that their fleet of school buses were amongst the most modern available using the latest technology. A team involving Alice Cashell, Lily Nevins and Emilia Poole won the Intermediate age group with a cleverly designed project to catch plastic waste flowing down a local stream. Emily Jones and Ruby Williams were second, and Emily O'Brien third, with Lillie Sandles highly commended.

Mike Boyes, lead judge for North Cotswolds Rotary, praised all students who took part in the three competitions and thanked teachers at The Cotswold School.

“The best entries in each competition were of a commendably high standard, showing great imagination and originality”, said Mike.

“We hope that all those taking part will go on to develop their own particular styles of writing or photography, and that the young environmentalists will inspire others to take action to reduce waste.”