Singapore-based Aditya Choudhury bagged the winning prize in the Senior category of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) 2020 for his essay ‘Voices from the Blue World’ at the first virtual awards ceremony for the world’s oldest international school writing competition, organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) in London.
Chouhdury, 14, joined the virtual event from Singapore as he was conferred the award by Camilla Parker-Bowles – the Duchess of Cornwall, who is the royal patron of the event.
“I think you must be very well educated and very clever. I have seen a lot of stories coming from Singapore but I really do think yours is the best I have ever read,” she said.
The theme for 2020 was “Climate Action the Commonwealth” and Choudhury’s essay focussed on the aspect of water conservation.
“I learnt some amazing Commonwealth facts and it made me want to write a piece that offers a glimpse of a brighter future,” said the young student.
Ananya Mukerji, 16, from India was named the Senior Runner-up for her essay ‘The Waters Rise’, an extract of which was read during the ceremony by Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor Khan.
“I wrote from the perspective of someone living in a really tiny island country to focus on the direct impact of . I can’t imagine how it would feel to live somewhere where it feels your home could literally sink in the ocean,” said Mukerji.
The Duchess of Cornwall praised her essay as “absolutely brilliant”.
“We get to see one of the great writers of the future,” added the royal.
The winners confirmed this month were whittled down from a "staggering" 13,000 entries across the 58 Commonwealth nations. In the junior category, the winners included a 10-year-old schoolgirl Eleni Bazikamwe from Ghana and a 13-year-old girl Cassandra Nguyen from Canada.
Each year, aspiring young writers are asked to submit their pieces in response to a theme for the ’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) 2020. Recent themes have included A Connected Commonwealth (2019), Towards a Common Future (2018), A Commonwealth for Peace (2017), and An Inclusive (2016); drawing out innovative ideas for positive change and encouraging entrants to consider new perspectives.
The themes are rooted in Commonwealth values, providing an interesting introduction to the network and allowing young people to explore their own connection to the Commonwealth, whilst fostering an empathetic and open-minded world view, the RCS said, adding that the institution has a rich history of nurturing the creative talents of young people around the Commonwealth and endeavour to promote literacy, expression and creativity by celebrating excellence and imagination.
All entrants and all participating schools receive a Certificate of Participation and one Winner and Runner-up from the Senior and Junior categories win a trip to London for a week of educational and cultural events.