During the Coventry Peace Festival leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the fighting of the Second World War, Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation invited children aged 16 or younger who live or attend school in the city to submit a poem on the theme of peace and/or justice and/or reconciliation.
This was the first time that the Coventry Children’s Peace Poem Competition had been run, and the Committee were delighted that almost 140 children from nearly 20 different Coventry schools sent in their poems.
The judges Ann Evans, Craig Muir, Emilie Lauren Jones and Balbir Sohal were “amazed by the quality of the poems and the children’s knowledge about wars and history. We have some very talented and thoughtful young people in our city.”
It was very difficult for them to choose the best poem but finally they picked two winners: a class of seven-year-olds from Keresley Grange Academy and an eleven-year-old student Harry Lovelock from President Kennedy School. You can read the winning poems below.
About writing the poem, Harry said “I found the ideas for my poem by watching a documentary about the war on the television. The documentary informed me about experiences of the young men who fought in World War One. These experiences included six weeks of training before the war, the trenches in Belgium, duty on the front line and help out away from the front line. Also it informed me about the harsh living conditions such as being surrounded by rats, mud, suffering from trench foot and for the unlucky few, dying. I have also included the British troops helping the German troops to symbolise that we have reconciled now and that peace has been restored. I feel privileged to have been chosen for joint first place in the poetry competition and I am extremely grateful.”
Laura Meyrick, who is in charge of Higher Attainers in the Bridge of President Kennedy School where Harry is a student, explained that “the Bridge delivers a personalised curriculum to support, stretch and challenge President Kennedy School Year 7 students to make a happy and successful transition from their primary to their secondary school.”
The judges said that “Harry Lovelock’s poem The Great Adventure tells a story, it’s simple but effective, it has a natural rhythm to it, it was believable, it flowed well, the word choices were well thought out and we felt the author’s own voice coming through. Also, it is fitting for the centenary of the ending of World War I.”
Katie Vaughan of Keresley Grange Academy said “At Keresley Grange, reading and the development of rich vocabulary are of the highest priority and children here use an incredible range of words, which means that their writing is superb. This is reflected in their award winning Peace Poem. Here they wrote about showing respect and kindness for each other and all for member of the global community. This value is lived every day at Keresley Grange as part of the school’s RESPECT value. The children loved writing their poem and everyone at Keresley Grange is delighted that their writing talent has been recognised as one of the winners of the Coventry Children’s Peace Poem Competition.”
About the poem written by the class of seven-year-olds from Keresley Grange, the judges said “it was great as it flowed and had a good pace to it. It talked about issues that affect the everyday lives of children in our city: putting litter in a bin; including others in their games. It makes some really lovely, basic suggestions about how the world would be a happier and more peaceful place if we followed their advice such as making friends wherever you go, making someone smile every day, feeling comfortable to sometimes say no. These points can also be applied to us adults too!”
Philip Brown, Chair of the Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation which organised this competition said “We had such a positive response to this competition that it will now become a regular feature of the annual Peace Festival. In addition, next year we are hoping to have one of the winning poems set to music in order to create the Coventry Schools Peace Song. We would love to hear from any musicians who would like to get involved in this. They should contact me at email@example.com.”
The Lord Mayor’s Committee would like to thank SACRE for their help in telling schools about this competition and making it such a success.
Book of Poems Available
All the poems submitted to the competition are available in an book which is produced in two versions:
- An ebook which can be found here.
- A paperback book which is available from our online shop where we offer discounts on purchases of 5 copies or more. It is also available on Amazon.
By a year 3 class of seven-year-olds at Keresley Grange Academy
Each child wrote one verse of this poem
Peace makes your life better,
And always believing in yourself.
The dream is everyone showing respect for each other,
The poor laughing with the wealth.
Older children playing games with younger children,
Can be lots of fun to do.
Putting litter in the bin,
Sharing a smile or maybe two!
Accepting people who are different to you,
Friends of different race playing with each other.
Forgiving wrongs and compromising,
Respecting your father and mother.
Different religions dancing together,
Children walking with the old.
Helping animals and looking after plants,
In the warm, wind, snow or cold.
Being calm and positive,
And being content with what you’ve got.
Accepting apologies and forgiving,
Remembering soldiers that others forgot.
Including people that are different,
Making friends wherever you go.
Making someone smile every day,
Feeling comfortable to sometimes say no.
Everyone being nice to each other,
No matter their shape or colour or size.
Giving a hug when someone is sad,
Never telling lies.
Being grateful for what you have,
Your friends, family, food and toys.
Think about those who don’t have as much,
Those families, girls and boys.
And if there is a problem,
Forgiving and saying you’re sorry.
Having empathy for your friends,
And listening to their worries.
Peace is about showing love and compassion,
Having good manners like thank you and please.
Holding doors and saying hi,
Saying bless you when you hear someone sneeze.
What a world it would be,
If everyone could send peace and love to all.
We are here to support each other,
And stand together so we don’t fall.
“The Great Adventure”
by Harry Lovelock, age 11
President Kennedy School
“Are you nineteen lad?” “Yes sir!” I lied,
Six weeks of training, with friends by my side.
My country is calling it’s time for war,
Exciting times ahead, a Great Adventure for sure!
Kitted-up for battle, with helmet and gun,
Be over in six months we’re off to Belgium!
We arrive at the trenches, focused not fear,
Spirits are high, the Great Adventure is here!
Sentry duty of two hours on and two hours off,
Scanning the horizon don’t dare nod off.
Shells exploding above, I see a German gun,
It’s Us versus Them, the Great Adventure is on!
“Take a break soldier, it’s time to rest.”
Lay some tracks, load some trucks, must do my best.
Rain, rats and mud, friends that I miss,
My feet so sore, what Great Adventure is this?
The Final push forward, and calls of “Over the top!”
Tanks and machine guns behind us, just don’t stop.
Some Germans surrender, young and weary men,
Tired like us, will this Great Adventure end?
“Hey Jerry. Let’s swap hats! Try some wine!”
“Cigarette? Have one of mine!”
It’s time to return home, but what will we do?
Another Great Adventure perhaps… but only for a few