Winners of The Trafalgar Way short story competition made history of their own when they were presented with their prizes in the Great Cabin of Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard on Sunday 3rd March. The presentations were made by HMS Victory’s Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Brian Smith.

The competition attracted nearly 300 entries judged in three age categories, the story writers coming from London and south west counties located along The Trafalgar Way. Judged by a distinguished panel that included BBC historian Dan Snow, competition entrants were invited to write an original short story entitled ‘An Urgent Message’.

The Trafalgar Way, an initiative of The 1805 Club, is an educational charity which raises awareness of the historic land route taken by Lt John Lapenotiere bringing news of victory and of Nelson’s death after the Battle of Trafalgar, which was the inspiration behind the competition’s theme.

The competition, which was judged ‘blind’ to ensure absolute fairness, produced some interesting results. Of the 14 award winners, five came from a single school - Hall Grove near Bagshot. On being told of this success, headmaster, Alastair Graham, remarked ‘Creative writing is something we are very keen on.”

Jenna Islam (aged 17), who attends Saint Paul’s Way Trust School in Tower Hamlets, London, who won in the 17-21 age group said “Winning the competition has done wonders for my confidence. I've always been interested in writing but never sure if I was good enough. This has certainly encouraged me to write more and be more willing to let others read my work.” Jenna is part of her borough youth board and interfaith forum and her story ‘Knife Edge’ deals imaginatively with the issue of knife crime.

A sea cadet travelled all the way from Milford Haven in Wales to Portsmouth for the prize-giving. Alfie Anderson, (13), who was second in the 12 ??" 16 category and is determined to join the Royal Navy, wore his ‘number 1’ uniform, saluting Lt Cdr Smith when he received his prize.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said “We welcome The 1805 Club’s work in raising awareness of The Trafalgar Way, and taking this important naval story back to the towns and villages that first heard it.”

Lt Cdr Brian Smith commented: “Being in command of HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and Flagship of the First Sea Lord, is a huge privilege and having greatly admired Admiral Nelson since childhood, it is a great honour and pleasure to present the prizes to winners of The Trafalgar Way Story Competition.”

All the winning stories from the competition will feature in a special Trafalgar Way book, to be published this summer.


A selection of photographs from the ceremony is available here: