The Chairman and Trustees of The Pushkin Prizes in Scotland and St Petersburg regret to announce that the Prizes will close in August 2019 after 33 years.
The Pushkin Prizes- a creative writing initiative open to children in their first and second year of secondary school – was launched in Tayside, before being made available to pupils throughout Scotland. A parallel initiative was established in English language specialist schools in St Petersburg.
Originally prize-winners from Scotland spent a week in St Petersburg, and the Russian prize-winners spent a week in Scotland. In 2001, in response to the growing number of entries received, the structure of the initiative was altered and from then, twelve Scottish and Russian winners met for the annual Pushkin Prize-winners’ Week in Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Writers’ Centre, where they were tutored by professional writers.
The final Pushkin Prize-winners’ Week took place in June 2019 with ten young people from all over Scotland, and two from St Petersburg, tutored by the poet Gerry Cambridge and the writer Julie Bertagna.
One of the Pushkin Prize-winners said of the week at Moniack Mhor, ‘I loved every minute of it. I used to be too shy to admit that I liked writing stories and poetry, but the tutors [Gerry Cambridge and Julie Bertagna] gave me confidence in my ideas. I’ve got things I want to say, and they’ve given me so many ideas for the best way to say them through my writing.’
The Chairman and Founder of the Prizes, Lady Butter CVO, a great-great-granddaughter of the Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin said of the decision:
It was after much consideration and great reluctance that we made this decision, but it was a realistic one, added to which I am now 94 years old. I think we can be proud of what has been achieved over the years. My original idea was to run a small scheme in Tayside to encourage young people to have a free choice to share stories, poems, comments and ideas through the written word. They also had the opportunity to write in Gaelic and Scots, and the results have exceeded all my expectations. Over thirty-three years we have watched our winners and participants move into all kinds of professions, from Politics, Teaching, Medicine, Law, Veterinary Practice to Sports Science, and we also have Archaeologists, Historians and Artists among our alumni. The opportunity to participate reached more than 65,000 young people during those years.
It has been so rewarding to hear how much their experience as Pushkin Prize-winners has influenced their decisions and been life enhancing and given them so much confidence. This applies particularly to our Special Endeavour participants. Friendships for life have been formed with these young people in Scotland and St Petersburg, particularly with developments in social media. It’s extraordinary to think that when we started our only form of communication was by letter and phone.
It never ceases to amaze me how this little flame that started all those years ago has continued to burn brightly, and I have confidence that it will not be extinguished, and the contacts formed will not cease.
My ever grateful thanks go to Judges, Tutors, Sponsors, Librarians, Teachers, and the young writers and their families whose support is essential. I am sure that they will continue to write and learn to express themselves and communicate through the written word. It has been my great personal privilege to have been associated with them all.