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Amnesty unveils its 2011 Young Human Rights Reporter of the year

Photographs available on request

Amnesty International’s Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year reached its climax this afternoon with the unveiling of the 2011 winners at a prestigious ceremony in London.

The competition attracted nearly 1,000 entries from all four corners of the UK and was split into four categories. The top three in each category were invited to the ceremony at Amnesty International UK’s headquarters in Shoreditch, along with a parent, a teacher and three of their classmates.

The two young categories – Upper Primary and Lower Secondary – were sponsored by the Guardian’s education arm, Learnnewsdesk. The education weekly SecEd sponsored the Upper Secondary and Sixth Form categories.

Isabella French, 11, from Merryhills Primary School in Enfield won the Upper Primary category and received her award from the 2010 winner Florence Potkins.

Afterwards, Isabella, who had written about child labour, said: “I feel ecstatic. There are no words to describe it. Today has been a real experience.

“I wouldn’t mind being a journalist when I grow up. I never really thought about it before.”

Angus Kirk made the 300-mile trip from Morpeth in Northumberland with his teacher Victoria Najafi, his mum Carole and his friend Robbie Allen, Alexander Millard and Ewan Kirk to receive the top prize in the Lower Secondary category from the 2010 winner Nicketa DaCosta.

Angus, 13, who attends The King Edward VI School, wrote about child soldiers. He was delighted and added: “I heard about it from my school's student voice department and thought it sounded interesting.

“When I started researching my story, I saw a picture of a really young boy in the army and that really caught my attention, that’s why I wrote about that.

“I really did enjoy writing it. It’s been amazing to be able to be here today.

“I’ll definitely carry on writing.”

Florence and Nicketa were among the eight judges for the Upper Primary and Lower Secondary categories. The other judges included the co-editors of Learnnewsdesk Emily Drabble and Emma Drury, Guardian senior reporter Ian Cobain, English teacher Charlotte Rashford and representatives from Amnesty International.

Jess Elliott, from the John Hanson Community School in Andover, Hampshire, won the Upper Secondary school category for her article on access to education in Botswana.

The 16 year old said: “It was really awesome to walk up the steps to get my award. I was so proud to be one of the finalists and to see the quality of the other articles on the short list it was amazing to win.

“I hope that my article will start to raise awareness about the issues I wrote about.

“I’m still speechless. I can’t believe I won. It was really good.”

The winner for the Sixth Form category was 17-year-old Nathaniel Burnett from the Hockerill Anglo-European College in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.

Nathaniel’s winning article focused on Bolivia.

Afterwards, Nathaniel, who lives in Henham, said: “I was stunned to find out about the award. I am so grateful for everything Amnesty has given me.

“The award really epitomises what Amnesty is about and the direction they are going in. I am really glad to be a part of it.”

There were six judges for the Upper Secondary and Sixth Form categories: SecEd editor and publisher Pete Henshaw, the authors Malorie Blackman and Elizabeth Laird and representatives from Amnesty International.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, added: “Our congratulations go to all the winners. It’s been a fantastic competition and we’re proud to be encouraging the next generation of human rights journalists.

“Reporters play a vital role in shining a spotlight on the appalling human rights abuses that happen every day across the globe – issues that Amnesty frequently campaigns upon.

“And hopefully the entrants into the Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year can take up that mantle in the years ahead.

“This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Amnesty’s Media Awards, which celebrates the work of professional reporters. It is my hope that, in the future, some of today’s winners will grace that stage too.”

Notes to editors:
For the Upper Primary and Lower Secondary categories Children's rights were asked to write articles of between 200 and 250 words in length.

For the Upper Secondary and Sixth Form categories, pupils had to submit pieces of up to 500 words in lengh.

Upper Primary category: Winner: Isabella French (Merryhills Primary School, Enfield, Middlesex); Runner-up: Ellie Arden (St Ebbes, Oxford) and Suraj Lall (Bablake Junior School, Coventry).

Lower Secondary category: Winner: Angus Kirk (The King Edward VI School, Morpeth, Northumberland); Runner-up: Natasha Kelly (Belfast Royal Academy, Northern Ireland) and Nicola Morgan (Bullers Wood School, Bromley, Kent).

Upper Secondary category: Winner: Jess Elliott (John Hanson Community School, Andover, Hampshire); Runner-up: Ellie Daghlian (Berkhamsted School, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire) and Daniel Hallstrom (Harrow School, Harrow-on-the-hill, Middlesex).

Sixth Form: Winner: Nathaniel Burnett (Hockerill Anglo-European College, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire); Runner-up: Angus Barry (The King’s School, Canterbury, Kent) and Eunice Kim (Surbiton High School, Surrey).

Amnesty International’s Media Awards takes place on 24 May.


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