The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize 2019 Winners

Published: 31st May 2019

Find out more about the TKPP2020 here:

The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize celebrates the life of Terry Kelly. The prize encourages young people across the North East of England to develop a love of poetry. On Wednesday evening around 150 people gathered to hear who the winners were.

The Shortlisted TKPP 2019 Poets Who Attended the Awards

The Shortlisted TKPP 2019 Poets Who Attended the Awards

There were three categories and we are pleased to share the poems with you all.

Primary Category

In the primary category Sophie Barnard won with ‘Don’t Put Plastic in the Sea’

Don’t Put Plastic in the Sea

Don’t put plastic in the sea,

it’s just not meant to be.

Fish, turtle, shark and seal,

really think this food is real.

They eat it up in their tummy,

then start to feel a bit funny.

They get stuck in nets all tangled,

this they really can’t have handled.

So please don’t put plastic in the sea,

it’s just not meant to be.

We are so lucky in South Tyneside to have beautiful green spaces and stunning beaches. Sophie’s poem encourages us all to take more responsibility for our environment. On reading her poem, I’m sure we will all think about how we can keep these natural habitats safe for people and wildlife.

Secondary Category

In the secondary category Brody Wotherspoon was the winner with a very moving poem dedicated to the memory of his sister Everly Grace and Molly Mae.

Thinking Back

Thinking back, back in time,

it was never to be the same.

Tears broke out

just hearing your name.


There in your room,

which is frozen in time

as if it wasn’t true

that you aren’t there any more

yet you are the perfect part of me

that I just can’t ignore.


Each night awake

thinking of you

dreams await, yet are out of reach.

Tears caught by my pillow

as I call your name,

an emotion inside

I tried to hide,

impossible to say nor teach.


If only I could hug you

or just see your face

yet now only memories

to stand in your place.


She’s still in your heart

is what they say

which will always be true

yet I feel so far apart from you.


Brody expressed his surprise at being awarded the prize. The judges admired his decision to share something so personal. His poem is a fitting tribute to his sisters.

Post 16 Category

Finally, out post 16 winner was by Julia Atherly.

Blue Hydrangeas

Looking back, I see the small obsessions – the deliberations

bordering on annoyance when you failed to find the thing

to fill the space.

The plastic greenhouses, oak sideboards, and

the china cockerel which we joked I would inherit when you were gone.

So, when I came across those Blue Hydrangeas, and carried them,

priest-like through the cul-de-sac to your door,

I linked our lives with more than Christmases.

Flowers that made me the golden granddaughter for a few dog walks.

Those Blue Hydrangeas picked out from life’s little day,

Earth’s joys, and a vicar telling me that December is a

Good Time To Die.

Blue Hydrangeas which you planted

in a water trough a little taller than you.

Tom Kelly, our head judge, talked about precision and making sure there are no ‘spare words’. Julia wasn’t at the awards to collect her prize so we have emailed her to share the good news.  Her poem is again very personal but also easy to relate.

Everyone is a Winner

One again the judges had a hugely unenviable task. Tom Kelly, Alistair Robinson, Sheila Wakefield and Lauren Aspery spent a considerable amount of time deliberating. We are grateful for the time they give this prize. Lauren said:

It has been a pleasure receiving so many wonderful entries from young people all the way from primary school up to university. This competition is a testament to the young artistic talent in the North East and I am so proud to be a part of it.

As Alistair on the night everyone who was shortlisted has achieved something magnificent. Having their words published in an anthology is a big deal. Visitors to The Customs House can pick up a copy for free and we will shortly publish a digital copy. We want these poems to be read across the North East.


More about The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize

The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize is a cornerstone of The Takeover Festival. The Takeover is a unique youth arts festival.

The festival is programmed by the Takeover Team, a group of young people bringing excellent arts activities and events for other young people to enjoy at The Customs House. This is the second year The Takeover has been kindly supported by The Scottish Power Foundation.

2019 has been an incredible year for The TKPP, in fact it’s been award winning. The prize was recognised as a valuable opportunity for young people by the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear from Paul Callaghan, CBE,

The Gillian Dickinson Trust

Additionally, generous funding from the Gillian Dickinson Trust has allowed The Customs House to try new exciting things. Alexander Dickinson, a trustee of the Gillian Dickinson Trust, said:

For 15 years the Gillian Dickinson Trust has been supporting artistic excellence in the North East by focussing on a number of organisations which embody the highest standards. With this objective the Trust has agreed to support The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize in its aim to inspire children in the North East to develop a passion for poetry. The Trust considers that the exposure of children to high artistic standards at an early stage will encourage them to strive for high standards in all fields as they mature, and in their adult lives.

The trust’s generosity has helped more diverse young people take part.  Young poets from Bamburgh School, Lawnmowers Hip Hop School and Woodlawn School worked with Ken Masters to produce collaborative poems.

The trust’s grant also enabled us to appoint Lauren Aspery as the TKPP coordinator providing an important developmental opportunity for an aspiring young writer.

We were also able to commission Tom Kelly to produce a poetry teaching resource. This will support and encourage more entries for the Secondary Category for The TKPP 2020.

Thank You

On behalf of The Customs House we wish to thank:

The Kelly Family; Arts Council England; South Tyneside Council; Scottish Power Foundation; The Gillian Dickinson Trust; The High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear; and CVN Print.

Finally, thanks go to the young poets and their friends and families for believing, as we do, that poems can do amazing things.