Schoolgirl poet takes Wordsworth title – and sits in the bard’s chair

heidi the winner


A 15 year old schoolgirl from Carlisle has won the Rydal Mount Wordsworth Prize for young poets.

Heidi Ostell, a pupil at Trinity High School, won the award with her poem, Leviathan of the Forest.

It was judged to be the best from more than 100 entries from school pupils across Cumbria by descendants of the poet William Wordsworth.

At the award ceremony at Rydal Mount near Ambleside, which was the poet’s home for most of his life, his great-great-great-great-grandson Christopher Wordsworth presented Heidi with a trophy and a £50 cash prize.

Her name is now the first on a plaque which will be permanently displayed at Rydal Mount as the poetry contest becomes an annual event. And her poem will be framed and hung on the wall for visitors to read.

She sat for press photographs in Wordsworth’s favourite chair in the drawing room.

Christopher Wordsworth said: “The whole family was thrilled by the number of entries and the high standard from all schools and all age groups. It is so good to see we have many budding poets in the county to carry on the Wordsworth tradition.”

The theme for the poetry contest was flowers and trees.

The runners up were:

13-15 Category

WINNER: Georgina Proudfoot of Trinity School, Carlisle, for Red Rose.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Adam Kirkbride of St. Joseph’s RC High School, Workington, for Lotus Flower; Rhianna Johnston  of Trinity School for Memory Tree; and Clover Hopwood of The Lakes School, Troutbeck Bridge, for The Four Seasons.


11-12 Category

WINNER: Kirsty Laverack of The Lakes School for Dandelion

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Charlie Smith of St. Joseph’s for My Oasis and Emily Connell of St. Joseph’s for English Oak


10 and under Category

JOINT WINNERS: Isabel Milbourn of Crosby-on-Eden School for The Old Man and Faye Logan of Ambleside CE Primary School for Bluebell Woods.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ellen Maia Gledhill of Ambleside Primary for Snowdrop; Lucy Armstrong of Crosby-on-Eden Primary for The Vast Giant; and Jenzel Ocampo of Ambleside Primary for City tree.


Heidi said that the inspiration for her poem came from a scene in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in which the Ents (trees) come alive. “I liked the idea of bringing a tree to life and giving it personality and I found the imagery of the forest was really impressive and detailed – which also inspired me,” she said


She has previously written a few poems in school: “I like how it’s more of an art form than just a piece of writing – each line has to be carefully crafted.


“I like Gothic poetry such as Edgar Allen Poe and Byron. Since entering the competition I’ve become more interested in Romantic poems.”

Her favourite Wordsworth poem is A Night Piece: “ I really like the descriptions of the night sky and the poem makes you appreciate its size and depth.”


Leviathan of the forest – by Heidi Ostell


Below a vast canvas of ever changing sky

surrounded by diverse forms of life and enchantment

the tree stands still.

Absorbing the world through the veins in its leaves,

shivering and dancing in the tranquil breeze

alive yet silent.

Ancient roots sprouted upwards from the earth,

intertwining, twisting, ascending,

encased in a skin of bark and moss,

engraved in timeless memories.

As gold liquid sunlight pours over the tree,

small birds dive through its branches,

and when the sun dies, the opal moon,

illuminating like fireflies,

is held in the sky by a million stars,

watching over the leviathan of the forest.

The tree is almost infinite,

if not for the captivity of time.

Eventually, it weakens –

defeated by wind, rain and storms.

Life fades away from the tree, like a cloud in the horizon.

At the foot of the decaying tree, sprouts a tiny stalk,

growing upwards.



1 thought on “Schoolgirl poet takes Wordsworth title – and sits in the bard’s chair


    What a lovely couple of hours spent at Rydal Mount at the award ceremony for the Wordsworth Prize for young poets, It was lovely to see all the different age groups who had entered all together in such beautiful surroundings. Thank you especially to Christopher Wordsworth and all involved for all the hard work in putting this together and giving us the chance to view Rydal Mount House and Gardens, We will definitely return soon to spend a a little longer looking round such a lovely bit of history.


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