Fife pupil’s ‘letter from WW1 trenches’ stuns judges in competition
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Esha Ahmed, 15, from Levenmouth Academy, was presented with the secondary school award in Poppyscotland’s Letters to my Teacher competition.
Young people were challenged to imagine themselves serving on the front line during the war and writing home to their former teachers.
Esha’s “honest and imaginative” letter was shortlisted by judges and emerged the winner after the second round of public online voting.
Esha described marching with her regiment through wrecked French villages and towns, with the air thick with smoke and bodies lying on the ground.
She wrote of waking up drenched in sweat after nightmares, and pondering the fragility of life after seeing an old schoolfriend killed.
The competition was inspired by letters written by Scottish soldier Douglas Constable to John Hamilton, his former headteacher at St Mary’s Melrose School. Douglas left a promising publishing career to serve with the Grenadier Guards in Belgium and France.
He was killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, aged 26.
This year’s contest received a record-breaking entry, with almost 500 letters from schools across Scotland.
Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland’s head of fundraising and learning and one of the judges, said: “Esha’s account stood out as being full of imagination, contemplative, and honest.
“She managed to put herself in the boots of a First World War soldier, painting a full picture of trench life and its brutalities.”Ronnie Ross, headteacher at Levenmouth Academy, said: “I was genuinely moved when I read Esha’s work.
“She has shown genuine compassion and empathy with those who fought on the frontline and protected the free world at the beginning of the twentieth century and for this she must be truly congratulated.”
Dean Hendry, principal teacher of history and modern studies, added: “Her hard work, dedication and commitment to her studies serve as a shining example to those around her.”
The winners received £500 in Amazon vouchers for their school, a visit from Poppyscotland’s mobile museum, Bud, and a class tour of Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, when it reopens this autumn.