Here are your heroes! Read the winning stories from our Writer in Residence competition for schoolchildren

Published on: 26 July 2021 Author: Onjali Q Raúf

Back in March, Onjali Q Raúf asked children to share stories of their amazing local heroes, and now it's time to announce the winners! These are the entries that most made us laugh, well up and gawp in wonder – you're in for a treat (top tip: grab some tissues).

Family and friends were popular heroes for children in our writing competition: illustration by Fiona Lumbers

Let's start by saying a huge thank you to every child who entered the "Local hero" writing competition.

The quality of entries was incredible and our Writer in Residence, author Onjali Q Raúf, had a very tough time judging them!

Finally, though, we can announce the three winners – first, second and third prize – so read on so to celebrate the nations's unsung heroes, bringing everyday smiles and cheer to children across the UK.

(We can also reveal that a lot of mums and dads got a look-in – so, parents, all that parenting does NOT go unnoticed!) 

More about our Writer in Residence

Winning story: My Grandmother by Aycel S

My grandmother is a bright and shooting star,
Her kindness and generosity go beyond and far,
On my first day of life, she flew miles to greet me,
I didn’t know that, I was told as then I was wee,
Her first gift to me was a pink velvet frock,
With a matching hair band, gloves and same colour sock!

My grandmother is special; she read me stories from the day I was born,
Her voice and intonation made my mind get blown,
Through stories and tales I travelled the world,
I went on adventures that taught me to be daring and bold.
I know I am special, because the way she looks at me,
Her eyes glisten and shine with fascinated glee!

My first sewing lesson was given by her,
A cushion, a heart, I even made a bear!!
She taught me how to put the thread through the eye,
And as the needle skipped, we played I-spy,
I keep my creations as they are all keepsakes,
I am proud of them all as they are all my makes!

My granny can click her fingers and to me she will sing,
For hours she won’t tire and will push me on the swing.
This taught me to sing and dance to the beat,
No wonder I can now play the piano to a feat!
I was seven when I got my first music award,
The mayor said I was the youngest on board!

My granny can decorate vases with shells,
She’ll help me hold the glue gun; I think that’s swell!
She puts up all my art work and pin it to the wall in her house,
And now I won the art practise-a-thon for my green house.
My granny will let me use paint and glue,
She doesn’t mind the mess because we can un-do.

My granny is simply great fun; she can speak languages too,
She can speak a special language that only we both know!
We mix two letters at the front of each word,
And the last two letters of the following word!
My granny’s handwriting is lovely and clear,
Her handwritten letters are so very dear.

My granny wears a smile on her pretty pink lips,
I love the way, her tea, she sips,
She’s a lady and dresses in style,
With her I walked my very first mile,
She taught me how to walk with a book on my head,
And if attacked by a dog to play dead!!

My granny makes the best food to eat,
The aroma can attract you from about a million feet!!
She would easily have the title best cook in the universe,
Her plates are delicious, varied and diverse.
My granny is great when it comes to cakes.
Unlimited are the number of things she bakes.

My granny is an engineer, a special kind called civil,
I love watching her use her pencil and stencil,
Whoops, I’ve used all 500 words,
Yet to tell I have loads…..

Onjali Q Rauf says: 'What a stunning and deeply felt ode to a beautiful and much beloved grandparent. From reading to Aycel from her earliest days to inspiring her with her works as a civil engineer and making sea-shell covered vases, this poem is clearly the result of loving a very special s/hero. Also had a chuckle at the clever end, warning us that the 500 word limit had been surpassed and Aycel had barely got started!'

Runner Up, Second Prize: My Dad is a Superhero by Anoushka M

My dad is a superhero,
Though he doesn’t look like one,
Not only does he save the day,
But is also extremely fun.

He doesn’t have a cape,
Or a mask for his outfit.
All he carries around,
is a doctor’s medical kit.

Every day he does his duties,
By saving someone’s life,
Through medicine and surgery,
He also helps the wildlife!

So if something happens – something bad,
Don’t worry; don’t fear,
Just shout out and call for help,
and Super-Dad is here!

Whether you’ve seen a monster,
Or you need some advice,
Just shout out and cry for help,
And he shall come in a trice.

A cat hides in our garden,
And we also look after fish,
Making sure all the species are safe,
Is probably what he would wish.

When my Dad was about thirteen,
He adopted some strays,
He helped mend their wounds and cuts,
Without any X-rays.

Our house is green and full of plants,
Insects, bugs and flies.
There is too many to look after,
Even if he tries.

So if something happens – something bad,
Don’t worry; don’t fear,
Just shout out and call for help,
And Super-Dad is here!

Whether you’ve seen a monster,
Or you need some advice,
Just shout out and cry for help,
And he shall come in a trice.

Our elderly neighbour Ralph,
Fell down the stairs at night,
Super-Dad called the ambulance,
After he woke up with a fright.

Another time Ralph’s wheelchair,
Got stuck in the doorway,
Super-Dad sorted the problem,
And saved another day!

But his most heroic save was when,
Ralph accidentally fell down,
Dad helped carry Ralph inside,
I think that he deserves a crown.

So if something happens  something bad,
Don’t worry; don’t fear,
Just shout out and call for help,
And Super-Dad is here!

Whether you’ve seen a monster,
Or you need some advice,
Just shout out and cry for help,
And he shall come in a trice.

But before you go shouting for help,
Take my advice this time,
To keep Super-Dad satisfied,
Give him a slice of cake with a drizzle of lime.

As Super-Dad is always hungry,
He only has one request,
That you give him a good hearty meal,
Before he leaves on his quest.

Before you come meet Super-Dad,
Just pack a bag of food,
I suggest you don’t keep him waiting,
Otherwise, it is rude.

So if something happens – something bad,
Don’t worry; don’t fear,
Just shout out and call for help,
And Super-Dad is here!

Whether you’ve seen a monster,
Or you need some advice,
Just shout out and cry for help,
And he shall come in a trice.

Onjali Q Rauf says: 'Anoushka is clearly a songwriter in the making with that brilliant insertion of a chorus to champion all the works and good deeds her superheroic doctor of a dad does (in return for a loving plate of food!).'

Runner Up, Third Prize: Joe Maman by Ryan D

There are so many unsung s/heroes all around me, from our friendly postman chatting to everyone on his route, who cheerfully delivers our parcels and post, whatever the weather (including books for me when libraries were closed and my beloved football and news magazines!), to the workers at our local Tesco who tirelessly stack the shelves so that everyone has food to eat. To the neighbours in our local community who have collected food and Christmas presents for our local foodbank, and help elderly neighbours and do litter picks in our park. To the resilient teachers and staff in our school trying to keep everything as normal as possible for children, and the police officers who keep our communities safe every day. And of course, our NHS workers who have courageously cared for patients in hospitals and kept our hospitals clean during this turbulent time. These people and more are all S/HEROES.

But the person I want to write about is someone who is local and related to me. He is also an NHS keyworker. He is Pharmacy Hero Joe but I call him Joe Maman (which means "Uncle Joe" in Malayalam).  He is very inspiring because although he has 'just been doing his job’ as normal (like all keyworkers), I realised the work he and other pharmacists have done is EXTRAORDINARY!

During the pandemic, while GP surgeries have mostly been closed and only accessed remotely, pharmacies have been open as usual, continuing to help everyone get their life-saving medicines whether that is in the chemist or, really importantly, by delivering medication for a lot of extremely vulnerable people who were shielding and unable to leave their homes. Pharmacists have also been on hand to give advice on any medical problems during a time when people have been unable to "see" their GP. Did you know that pharmacists also helped in researching how to beat COVID-19 through running clinical trials for the vaccine? Pharmacies have also been Safe Spaces for victims of domestic abuse enabling people to access specialist support, through the "UK SAYS NO MORE" campaign. Not only that, Joe Maman has helped stop the spread of coronavirus by being trained to administer Covid-19 vaccinations which he volunteers to do and his team have vaccinated nearly 3,000 people and counting!

Despite having so much pressure on them and their health (and their families), pharmacists have been on the front-line to selflessly protect the health of millions and provide vital help. They have quietly gone to heroic lengths, so I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the pharmacy s/heroes, including pharmacy technicians, assistants/admin teams… And a big thank you to Joe Maman!  Thanks also to all the keyworkers and volunteers who are amazing to keep our country going. They might not look as though they are wearing capes but they really are if you take a closer look!

Onjali Q Rauf says: 'Ryan clearly sees lots of heroes everywhere  from his postman to his local supermarket workers to "Joe Maman: a Pharmacy Hero", whom Ryan admires so much he calls him Uncle...''

Keep writing your stories!

Has that inspired your children to write something down, too? Or want to get more creative, either at school or at home? Then check out our Writer in Residence page for more inspiring content and also take a look at our writing tips.

Once again, thank you to all the children who entered and shared their heroes!

Here are some other lovely entries...

My Magnificent Mum

Read the story by Amelia R

'Her name is Emma. My mum is my superhero, because she helped me, my dad, my grandad and 2 cats through the pandemic. This is why I am writing a short story about her.'

My Hero

Read the story by Elizabeth B

'Mummy is a hero because whenever I hurt myself mummy is always here to help.'

My Mother Is a Heroine

Read the story by Raihan O

'My mother is a heroine to me because she helps lots of people out...'

My mum

Read the story by Rayan M

'My mum is a working doctor. She really likes to help sick patients.'

To all the teachers, staff and headmistress

Read the story by Ryan M

'I have had amazing teachers in every class and love all the lessons, even the maths!'

'Ada': My Lockdown Hero

Read the story by Sarah M

'One bright sunny warm midday when Mummy and Daddy where both on calls, Ada and I crept out into the garden without permission...'

Dad, You're My Hero

Read the story by Sharan I

'You are my biggest friend, my strength, my mentor, in every phase of my life, you stood by me like a rock.'

About My Mum

Read the story by Sheikh Salman A

'My mum is nice and really kind, she's also lovely and pretty polite.'

My Best Friend Is a Superhero

Read the story by Sofia M

'My Best Friend is a superhero. Her name is Zlata and her favourite colour is the colour of the sea, dark blue.'

My Real Life Superhero Is My Piano Teacher

Read the story by Tom C

'Her name is Josie, she is really nice, had lessons through lockdown- she gave me advice.'

Writer in Residence

Our current Illustrator in Residence is Onjali Q Raúf, who is writing blogs, running competitions and giving us her unique perspective on the world of children's books.

Find out what she's been up to