Southern Schools Book Award 2014 Presentation Evening
On Friday 9th January, Roedean once again hosted the Southern Schools Book Award in the theatre. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the SSBA; the award has gone from strength to strength since the first presentation evening in Eastbourne’s Waterstones bookshop where nine schools participated in the event.
To celebrate the anniversary the librarians introduced an Extraordinary Award this year as a tribute to all the enthusiastic young readers and the many authors that have been part over the years. This award went to Helen Watts and her book One Day in Oradour which revealed the tragic events that took place in a French village towards the end of the Second World War, seventy years ago. Helen gave a moving talk about her book and read a short extract from it where the children were ordered to be taken from their school to the fairground in Oradour by the Nazi soldiers.
The event was hosted by last year’s winner Kevin Brooks and was attended by 300 students and staff from 34 state and independent schools in Kent and Sussex. The students, mostly aged 13 to 14, had read and voted for all five titles on this year’s shortlist: Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy, Heroic by Phil Earle, Hostage 3 by Nick Lake, Split Second by Sophie McKenzie and Close Your Pretty Eyes by Sally Nicholls.
The authors brought their brilliant books to life by reading extracts and answering questions posed by the students. Unfortunately Nick Lake and Sophie McKenzie were unable to come to Roedean but talked about their books via recorded video clips.
Accompanied by exuberant cheers from the audience, the schools received their book tokens and then the tension mounted as Kevin asked the students to do the traditional foot drum roll just before announcing the results. The winner of the 2014 award was Sophie McKenzie with Split Second. The Highly Commended category was awarded to Hostage Three by Nick Lake.
Students flocked to the back of the stage to buy books and get them signed by the authors. The authors were delighted by the enthusiasm of the students, saying how they valued their comments about their books.
The participating schools and guests enjoyed the event enormously, paying tribute to Mandy Rutter, SSBA Coordinator, Roedean staff and girls:
“Another fantastic award ceremony took place on Friday 9th January for the Southern Schools Book Award. As always, the event was staged with enormous professionalism by Roedean and Kevin Brooks was a charming and self-effacing host.”
Michele Eaton, Schools Library and Museum Service
“As usual it was a great evening. Well-organised, fun and entertaining. Thank you to you for all your hard work – well done.”
Gina Pellett, Willingdon School
“Thank you so very much for once again organising such an amazing evening.”
Alison Standen, Moira House
“HUGE thanks to you all for another fab evening!
All my students wish to take part again next year and I have one Year 11 who leaves me who wishes she could return to take part and do this trip! I think that speaks volumes really . . . .?!
Everyone was great and massive thanks to you, Sue, Lesley and Mandy for all your continued hard work and dedication in making these evenings the fantastic events they always are for us all.”
Steph Newton, The Causeway School