On Tuesday we held the long-awaited Finals of the annual Poetry by Heart competition. I would like to thank all the teachers, parents and gappers who supported and encouraged our finalists. It has been a real treat to hear our pupils enter into the spirit of this competition with such gusto and feeling! We were also delighted to be able to welcome the whole school into the auditorium of the Theatre (last year, our finalists performed to a rather sad and empty space with an audience of one!)
We were thrilled to invite Susan Bowie back to Vinehall to help judge the competition. Susan is an actor who has played in many West End musicals and TV shows and is currently the Director of the Stonegate Amateur Dramatics Society. Susan joined Paul Borrows (Deputy Head) and Mary Alderson (Head of Drama) on the judges’ panel, while Debbie Gearey (English teacher) diligently scribed comments for the judging panel.
In the Junior section of the Finals (Years 2-4), we were delighted to welcome Arya E, Coralie F and Gabriella G from Year 2, confidently reciting “The Sea” by John Foster. Betsy S and Be G (Year 3) performed “The Caterpillar” by Wendy Cope, pronounced “a delightful choice of poem” by the judges. Rex L, Harry Mc and Lucas M (Year 3) delighted the audience with “There was an Old Lady” by Dennis Lee. Susan Bowie enjoyed this humorous performance, particularly the comic timing and the facial expressions! Finally, Amelia A, Lucie B and Yuzu M performed “Bedtime” by Richard Edwards, which our judges pronounced to be a “lovely, balanced and well-timed performance.”
The first to perform for our “Middles” section (Years 5&6) were Miles F & Harrison W (Year 6) with “Conversation Piece” by Gareth Owen; it was very enjoyable and entertaining. Brooke B (Year 6) read her beautiful poem, “Kingfisher” by Robert Macfarlane, with great sensitivity, and Kingsley N (Year 6) performed his poem “In the Moonlight” by Eric Finney with poise and depth. Despite his nerves, Kingsley had impressive stage presence. Cecily G (Year 5) gave a movingly beautiful rendition of “Sea Fever” by John Masefield and Isla M (Year 6) performed a spirited and dramatic version of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. Theo E (Year 6) entertained the judges and the audience with his good acting and super build-up in “Hot Food” by Michael Rosen.
In the Senior category, Isla H and Matilda S (Year 7) gave a confident and lively performance of “Be glad your nose is on your face” by Jack Prelutsky. Grace W (Year 8) gave a controlled and well-paced rendition of “The Coming of the Iron Man” by Brenda Williams. Susan was particularly impressed by Jordi D-M and Jimena L F-X (Year 7), who performed “The Ballad of the Carpenters” by L A G Strong with great emotion, enjoyment and teamwork. Elsie B and Poppy C (Year 7) impressed the judges with their rendition of the onomatopoeia poem “The Sound Collector” by Roger McGough. Hugo E (Year 8) (who was isolating at home) also impressed with one of England’s best-loved poems, Sonnet 18 “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” by William Shakespeare. His performance was well-paced, with a lovely vocal quality. Last (but not least), our brave Year 8 lads, Henry P, Monty G, Alfie E & Arthur P, delighted the audience and surmounted tricky technical challenges with their performance of “The Centipede’s Song” by Roald Dahl, with Arthur joining online via Teams. It was a real delight to see Arthur’s smiling face on the big screen when we could (finally) hear his voice (after a couple of false starts!). Many thanks to Darren Eglington and Tom Moore for facilitating that performance. The judges were very impressed by the boys’ courage and resilience, performing their poem in this way despite the obstacles.
Finally, as the judges made their deliberations, we were delighted to welcome our Gappers to the stage. Naomi Sinclair read “Keep Going” by Edgar Guest with great sensitivity and feeling; Finn Harrison gave an hilarious performance of “Saw My Teacher on a Saturday” by Emily Mendoza and Tom Howard appalled and thrilled the audience in equal measure with an extract from “Horace” by Monty Python.
The judges had an enormously difficult task. In the end they judged Arya E, Coralie F and Gabriella G from Year 2 to be the winners in the Junior category; Kingsley in the Middles and Jordi and Jimena in the Seniors, with Kingsley judged to be the best overall performer.
Many thanks to our Gappers and to Darren Eglington who put together this video of our performers here for your enjoyment.