Ten-year-old Amabel writes her way to palace

Amabel Smith at the ceremony with actor Jeremy Irons and the Duchess of Cornwall. (C) BBC - Photographer Guy Levy
Amabel Smith at the ceremony with actor Jeremy Irons and the Duchess of Cornwall. (C) BBC - Photographer Guy Levy
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A creative youngster rubbed shoulders with royalty and celebrities after winning a national writing competition.

Ten-year-old Amabel Smith was announced as the winner of the 10 to 13-year-olds category in BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition in a ceremony at St James’ Palace, hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall. The contest received its highest number of entries yet, with 120,421 children submitting 500-word stories.

I was shocked. I didn’t expect to win.

Amabel Smith

And Amabel was named as the winner by actor Jeremy Irons, who read out her story.

She said: “I was shocked. I didn’t expect to win.”

Her dad David, of Shaftesbury Place, Chorley, said: “We are really proud of her.

“It’s nice because they are all really good stories that got through to the top 50 and it’s nice that there is something about Amabel’s story that caught the judges’ eyes.”

It was second time lucky for Amabel, who entered the competition last year and reached the final. This time, she spent two weeks writing a story called It’s A Wide World.

Set in the future, it sees the Government control people by making them do everything on computers and not leave their house, but one girl breaks the rules by running at night.

Amabel said: “With the election coming up, it was all over TV with people talking about their manifestos.

“I thought what if it was a bad thing they were going to do and they wanted more control over people and they keep people in their houses and one girl doesn’t want to.”

Head judge Richard Hammond was impressed, saying: “What a flawless piece of writing this is. It’s an astonishing, frightening and all-round intriguing story.”

Amabel was named as the winner during a special broadcast of Chris Evans’ breakfast show on Radio 2.

She was invited on to BBC1’s The One Show that night, presented by Chris Evans. The first prize was a souvenir book of the story with comments from the celebrities, along with a pile of books as tall as Chris Evans.

And Chorley St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, where Amabel is a pupil, received 500 books.

Headteacher Patrick Smyth said: “Amabel is a very talented and creative individual and has impressed her teachers with her writing throughout her time here in school.”