Tonbridge junior school produces another short story finalist

IN THE RUNNING: Gabriela Chimonides with Radio 2’s Zoe Ball at the Windsor Castle ceremony

Tonbridge junior school produces another short story finalist

by Andy Tong | 20th June 2019

A PUPIL from Hilden Oaks school in Tonbridge has reached the finals of BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words short story competition for the second year running.

Gabriela Chimonides followed in the footsteps of Francesca Wade by being chosen as one of 28 finalists in the five to nine years age category. Across the country there were 112,986 entries.

Gabriela’s highly topical story The Great British Marble Run tells the tale of a country divided by squabbling over Brexit but then coming together to construct an extraordinary feat of engineering.

The eight-year-old said: “My story was inspired by my love of building big things and hearing all about Brexit debates every day.

“In my story, the people of Britain work together really well as a team, which stops all the arguments.

“It has a good ending, with everyone in Britain feeling happy to have helped build such an enormous, fantastic marble run.

“Her subject matter reflected the national mood, with Brexit being ‘children’s word of the year’ among all submitted stories, and plastic use also being a burning issue.

Hilden Oaks’ Headmistress Katy Joiner said: “We are extremely proud of Gabriela. What she has achieved is testament to her hard work and wonderfully creative mind, encouraged by our fantastic team of teachers. 

“We are amazed and delighted that two of our pupils have reached the final in successive years.”

Francesca won the Bronze prize in the five-to-nine section last year for her environmentally minded story about a ‘fatberg’, or build-up of fatty deposits blocking a sewage system.

Agent Ramsbottom and the Mysterious Fish and Chips was a humorous account of a police force staffed by babies enforcing healthy eating upon an obese society.

Mrs Joiner added: “We don’t think credit can be given to any one particular teacher – they are all fantastic.

“We believe our forward thinking curriculum, rich in opportunities, which includes current affairs Newsday Tuesday, is a contributing factor.”

The prep school’s burgeoning literary heritage may be inspired by E M Forster, who used to live in the house now occupied by Hilden Oaks at 38 Dry Hill Park Road.

This year’s 500 Words final was broadcast live from Windsor Castle on BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Friday [June 14].

The Great British Marble Run

The people of Britain were squabbling over Brexit and could not come to an agreement. Eventually Mrs May could bear no more arguments and debates. So, she stood up in parliament and announced, "All the people of Britain must work together as a team. We will build the longest marble run that Europe has ever seen!"

All around parliament there were disapproving mutterings about wasteful use of plastic.

"ORDER! ORDER!" cried the speaker, "Our prime minister must be heard!"

"This marble run should be eco-friendly and made of recycled materials," Mrs May declared.

The architects of London volunteered constructing a marble run through the entire city and the engineers of Glasgow offered to assemble one running across the whole of Scotland! Then the designers of Yorkshire advised building one as big as the county but the developers of Kent boasted they could create one that stretched to the far coast of Cornwall! The entire population wanted to be involved and to Mrs May's frustration everyone was bickering again! Finally, the people of Ireland suggested it could run throughout the United Kingdom. The nation enthusiastically agreed and started gathering materials.

Garages all over Britain started soldering timeworn exhaust pipes. Plumbers and builders collected old copper and steel pipes and joined them securely. Teachers and school children helped by finding cardboard tubes from kitchen rolls or wrapping paper and sticking them together. Busily at home everyone was preserving tins and other cylindrical tube-like objects for the giant marble run. Cardboard lying around in factories and offices was curved into loop-the-loops, spirals and bends.

At the highest cliff of John O' Groats the work had begun. The plan was to start from the northern coast of Scotland to the southern shores of England. In every hamlet, village, town and city of every county people were ferociously connecting their tubes ready to add to the lengthening marble run. In Northumberland everyone was waiting impatiently and applauded when they glimpsed it approaching. They added their tubes as far as Durham and so it went, on and on down the country. Towers and tall buildings were used to stop the track sinking too low and bridges carried it across rivers.

On Friday 29th March it was finished and huge crowds gathered! Fortunately, it was sunny and dry with a northerly breeze to help the marble along. Mrs May placed the marble in the start position and off it went! It began at tremendous speed, dipping and flying around the loops and curves. The marble reached the London Eye and spiralled swiftly round the luminous structure. Then there was a colossal uphill stretch, no-one thought the marble would make it as it slowed towards the peak. At the top of the slope it hesitated and the onlookers gasped but luckily it toppled forward and sped on to Land's End.

The Queen spoke "Everyone has worked truly harmoniously and I am delighted Britain is reunited!" Everybody cheered so loudly they could be heard on the coast of France!

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