BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS winners unveiled

Best 500 WORDS so far. Absolutely stellar. The stories always really come alive on the day of the final and this year was off the charts. The reaction from listeners following the broadcast this morning at Hay has been unprecedented. Can't wait for next year. Year four, bring it on."Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 presenter
Date: 31.05.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.55
Category: Radio 2
The six winners of this year’s BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition were announced today (Friday 31 May) in a live broadcast of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show from the Hay Festival.

This year, more than 90,000 children entered the competition, which is now in its third year. 500 WORDS is the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s Bronze Sony Award-winning Children’s Writing Competition.

This year’s winners wer:

In the 10-13 years category:

  • Gold: Your Life by Olivia Hunt from Somerset
  • Silver: Making Mum And Dad by Harry McMurray from North Yorkshire
  • Bronze:Watching by Archie O’Dair from Country Durham

In the 9 and under category:

  • Gold: The Starlings Of West Pier by Roxanna Toyne from Sussex
  • Silver: White by Letty Neary Jones from London
  • Bronze: Stone Age Steve And The Dragon by Christian Morton from Swansea

Earlier this year, children were invited to compose an original work of fiction, using no more than 500 words. CBBC and Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond, award-winning novelist and screen writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce, along with leading authors Dame Jaqueline Wilson, Charlie Higson and Malorie Blackman, then picked their favourite six stories, drawn from two age groups: children aged 9 and under, and those aged between 10 and 13.

Chris Evans says: “Best 500 WORDS so far. Absolutely stellar. The stories always really come alive on the day of the final and this year was off the charts. The reaction from listeners following the broadcast this morning at Hay has been unprecedented. Can't wait for next year. Year four, bring it on.”

Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children's Dictionaries at Oxford University Press says: “500 WORDS has given children across the UK a wonderful opportunity to use their language skills to create fabulous and evocative stories. The Oxford University Press use powerful technology and, together with teams of language experts, track and analyse children's language, and the message we are getting from the BBC’s 500 WORDS is very clear - language is evolving, and children are real language innovators. This research will help us shine a light on our children's language research in the future.”

At the Hay Festival, Olivier award-winning Radio 2 presenter Michael Ball; globe-trotting comic legend Michael Palin; BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid; award-winning actress Miranda Richardson; Harry Potter star Oliver Phelps; and Blue Peter's Barney Harwood, were this year's guests on the Radio 2 show. And Chris's The One Show co-host, Alex Jones, was on hand to capture the reactions of the prize-winning young authors. Further information can be found on bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/2013

The millions of words used in the stories were analysed by Oxford University Press to shine a light on children’s use of language. By using their advanced language database, the Oxford Children’s Corpus, its children’s dictionaries team revealed the imaginative and exciting ways that children use English today.

The research revealed some fascinating facts - including how 'mum' is far and away THE word of 500 WORDS 2013, with over 115,000 occurrences and regional variations, including mom and mam. But poor dad only just scrapes into the top 15 - although interestingly, he does star as an action man in several of the top 50 shortlisted stories - fighting aliens, exploding, and building a time machine!

The corpus also highlighted how children are fanatical about fairy tales and mad for magic, with dragons, monsters, giants, fairies and wizards dominating the 500 WORDS corpus. Only man’s best friend can rival dragons and monsters in the numbers stakes with dog appearing over 25,000 times.

The winning stories, along with the other final entries, and more detailed information about this year’s corpus are on the Radio 2 website - bbc.co.uk/radio2. Also on the 500 WORDS homepage will be behind-the-scenes video, which takes listeners to the heart of the nail-biting judging session, and pictures from the final in Hay.

AF2