Success for Derry St. Columb’s College pupil Séan McLaughlin in BBC Creative Writing competition

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Séan McLaughlin, a Year 12 pupil at St. Columb’s College, has caused a buzz lately with the exceptional standard of his creative writing and ‘command of language’, which has earned him praise from some of the country’s most successful authors.

Two Minute Tales is an annual creative writing competition run by the BBC in which children in three aged categories (5-8, 9-12 and 13-16) enter an original story, no longer than 300 words, inspired by a theme.

2022’s theme was ‘A Winter’s Adventure’ and despite over a mammoth 1,400 entries Séan’s story, entitled ‘Winter’s Cold Bite’, certainly bit into the hearts of the judges as he was awarded runner up in the competition.

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The judges, which included an award-winning illustrator, a former Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland and Carnegie Medal nominated author, and BBC National Short Story Award winner, were ‘extremely impressed’ by McLaughlin’s ‘command of language and the lyrical quality of the writing.’

St. Columb’s College pupil Séan McLaughlin.St. Columb’s College pupil Séan McLaughlin.
St. Columb’s College pupil Séan McLaughlin.

Sean’s story, which told of a young boy positioning himself in an idyllic paradisal forest eagerly awaiting the first forays of snow, was brought to life by award-winning actor Michael Patrick on the Lynette Fay Show on Wednesday, December 21 2022.

In addition to a certificate of commendation and congratulation, Séan received a framed illustration of a scene from his story.

Sean’s story, in text and a recording of the reading that aired on BBC Radio Ulster, can be

Additionally, Séan’s story is below:

Winter’s Cold Bite by Séan McLaughlin

The pine forest’s sloping, brown floor was blanketed thickly in frost-hardened needles; prickly, whiteish in the wintery conditions.

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The branches of the glimmering pine trees swayed silently, now dark grey-green in the frost, in an equally silent wind.

Only a faint and far-off whistle carried through the air.

An owl hooted sharply somewhere high in the metropolis of trees, near the blueish star-flecked night sky, which hosted a faint yellow-white moon, casting white light onto the woodland.

Scarcely anything moved as the celestial body loomed high above the tranquil setting.

Below a sprawling pine was a small stream running cold… gushing, diverted often by rocks which shone wet and slick. The stream in some places was frothy as it flowed, and it was white, like the snow that was looming in the unpredictable time ahead – for winter had yet to take full sway in this bleak and presumably desolate land.

But it wasn’t wholly empty.

On a large rock by the stream sat a boy.

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He was bundled up in many furs – a large coat, thick breeches, sturdy boots, and toughened gloves.

His breath was misty, face pale as the snow that he hoped and wished for, eyes as blue as ice, hair as black as the wolves that roamed.

He hummed softly, lips upwards in a half-contented smile, turning over a small marble stone in his gloved hands that was grey, streaked with white. He had been there many days, hoping for his beloved snow, and now, finally, had his wish.

He halted his humming as the first flecks of white flurried elegantly through the air, and his lips formed a full smile.

The magical whiteness enclosed the land, blanketing it in winter’s cold bite.

The boy, happy now, viewed his land becoming beautiful once again.

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