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Westwood College Daniel Deaville receives national recognition for his written creative talent

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 09, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

Westwood College student Daniel Deaville.

Westwood College student Daniel Deaville.

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A Leek student has received national recognition for his creative writing talent.

Daniel Deaville, who attends Westwood College in the town, made it in to the top 10 of Amnesty International's Young Reporter Competition 2014.

The award celebrates talented young writers reporting on a human rights issue they care about.

Daniel Deaville, aged 17, had his work judged by a panel of national journalists, renowned writers and educational professionals, including the acclaimed Christie Watson, author of Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and winner of the Costa First Novel Award.

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Daniel's article was about the stolen lives of Syrian child soldiers, and Christie Watson said of his entry to the competition: "It was the rare combination of facts and figures combined with a story that make it something to be remembered."

Jane Houston, Amnesty's education specialist, also praised Daniel's entry and described it as a "rallying cry for action".

Daniel, who is currently studying for A-Levels in English Literature, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, wrote about the exploitation of child soldiers, an often ignored aspect of the Syrian crisis which is now entering its fourth year. The Government's announcement, in January that the UK would act with the greatest urgency to help the most needy people in Syrian refugee camps encouraged Daniel to research who would be regarded as the 'most needy'.

This led to the uncovering of some shocking facts, such as child soldiers being paid the equivalent of just £1.50 to kill.

Despite such disturbing details, personally, Daniel is delighted at his achievement in the competition.

He said of the piece he submitted for the competition: "My main concern was to highlight an issue I believed needed to be brought to public attention urgently.

"I have always been aware of human rights issues, so I was immediately interested when this competition was brought to my attention by my teacher.

"My personal connection to the children of Syria is from a humanitarian viewpoint.

"I am glad to see that the certain organisations like UNICEF and various governments are now more involved in helping children caught in this terrible conflict."

Of coming in the top 10 in the competition, Daniel added: "I am thrilled to be singled out in the national top 10 from nearly 3,000 entrants.

"It gives me a great deal of personal pride that my article has been so well received.

"I will carry on writing and, one day, I hope to become a journalist who takes an active interest in human rights across the world."

In the meantime, Daniel will pursue a degree next year, hopefully one that allows him to combines his love of writing with his interest in current affairs and science.

Westwood College English teacher, Elora Chakma said: "Daniel wrote with such conviction.

"It has confirmed for me that many young people care passionately about world affairs and this is so encouraging."

As Director of Federation Sixth Form in Leek, Daniel Owen, added: "We are all really proud of Daniel's wonderful achievement and it proves how our students are able to compete with the very best nationwide.

"There is no doubt that reaching the top 10 shortlist for his age category in the highly distinguished Amnesty Youth Awards, will help Daniel move a very significant step closer towards his journalistic career."

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