Forces Voices

Lockdown Written Word and Audio: Winners and Honourable Mentions

Take a look at the written word / audio winners and honourable mentions from our Forces Voices creativity competition

During the height of lockdown we asked you and your kids to get creative in photography, arts & crafts, videography and written word / audio as part of our Forces Voices competition.

All written word / audio entries were judged by Amanda Prowse, a forces wife and International Bestselling author who has had twenty-four novels and six novellas published in dozens of languages around the world. 

Here are the winners and honourable mentions from the written word / audio category and the stories behind them.

Winner Adult: Andrew Campbell: Stagging On

"I'm part of the AGC (MPGS) and have been 'stagging on' at various military establishments for over a decade.

"Although I’ve tried to make the piece light-hearted, I’d like someone reading it to think about how difficult it must be to provide around the clock care to someone with critical care needs.

"I’d like someone reading it to consider how the current set-up of the care sector doesn’t seem to be working very well and doesn't inspire confidence in someone like June when she spies on the news that the care sector is the front line of the Covid battle - and it doesn't appear to be winning.

"Surely we can do it better."

Here is an extract from the winning entry. To read the full piece please click here.

Andrew Campbell: Stagging On

June answers her telephone, ‘Hello?’

‘Hi mum, how are you?’

‘Ach, not too good hen.  Your dad...I think this lockdown has tipped him over the edge.’


‘He’s started patrolling the pavement outside the house.  He walks to one end and then to the other.  Then he’ll take a seat in the garden, watching, before pacing again.’

‘Oh no mum, are you ok?’

‘It’s just draining sweetheart.  He’s out there from six in the morning till six at night.  I can only get him in if I don a pair of combats and a beret and pretend I’m his relief on the night shift.  He’s convinced he’s still in the Army.  He insists I address him as Corporal.  Or Guard Commander.  He’s also bought a wireless doorbell, which he rings when he wants relieved for the toilet or for a “brew” or so I can do my “stag” as he calls it.’

‘Oh no.  Have you spoke to the doctor?’

Honourable Mentions 

Hannah McCleery: Let Breathing Bring You Peace

"As someone who finds life a bit on the stressful side more often than not, I thought I'd write a poem to try and calm myself down.

"I'm learning more and more that a lot of life can be controlled by keeping calm.

"One thing that you can control, that no one else can, is breathing.

"Breathing is the key.

"I hope that if there is anyone struggling with life out there they can maybe relate, take a moment and ground themselves again."


Let Breathing Bring You Peace by Hannah McCleery


Whatever you are going through, 

Wherever you may be, 

If the world seems on top of you, 

Let breathing be your key. 


Just give yourself a second, 

Deep breath and release, 

Let the magic happen, 

Let breathing bring you peace. 


If life is getting tiring, 

Days disappear in a blink, 

Try some mental rewiring 

Stop for a moment and think. 


Just give yourself a second, 

Deep breath and release, 

Let the magic happen, 

Let breathing bring you peace. 


If panic starts arriving, 

And anxiety attacks, 

Remember it’s you whose driving, 

Settle down, relax. 


Just give yourself a second, 

Deep breath and release, 

Let the magic happen, 

Let breathing bring you peace. 

Hillary Briffa: In Here, Out There

"This poem uses the experience of being in lockdown with a person you love to reflect on bigger themes of hope, beauty, nature and resilience.

"Despite missing the joys of the outside world, there can be joy found in the quiet moments together as well.

"And even though we feel that time has stood still, the world continues to turn; this too shall pass.

"Even in nature, outside, there are both beautiful and terrifying forces at play. Even in a time of great tribulation, there can be moments of safety and calm inside.

"There are always opposites at play, good and bad in every moment; but a life lived focusing on love, compassion and nature can help us to find strength even in the most difficult moments."

In Here, Out There


In here, sun-kissed morning greets our eyelids

we stretch, and idle long, and disavow

the old ways, the outside they forbid,

small pleasures are the big pleasures now.


Out there, blossoms still creep across hedgerows,

heady perfume carried past our sill,

in here our patience quietly grows

through long conversations as time stands still.


Out there, dawdling clouds hang aloft,

sparrows are poised on the edge of their nest,

in here we whisper sweet nothings, so soft

and we recover...we recharge...we rest.


Out there a violent storm may appear, 

a river surrenders to the sea,

but in here, cocooned, there's nothing to fear

for I am with you, and you are with me.

Samara-Alana Smith: Storytellers Are My Heroes

"Having more time during the lockdown gave me the chance to think about how I have dealt with other difficult times in the past, and I had the time to express all of this by writing it down.

"This piece is about the power of sharing memories and stories and how important it can be to find our voices and have them respected and acknowledged."

Here is an extract from the entry. To read the full piece please click here.

Storytellers Are My Heroes: Samara-Alana Smith

Most of what I remember, what I can count as my experiences of being in a military family.

Have taken me from childhood to adulthood.

I find that I am still unravelling them today, still trying to fully understand all that those memories make me feel.

Being part of a military family has meant that I have experienced in some way, the outcomes of many of the conflicts of recent years.

The troubles in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, both Gulf Wars and of course Afghanistan to name a few.

Whilst as a child I didn’t understand everything going on around me, I did notice when things were happening that caused sadness and other changes in the people around me.

And here are the winners and honourable mentions for the children's category and the stories behind them. 

Winner Under 18s: Joe Matthews: The Summer of Sticking Tight

"My name is Joe Matthews. I’m currently transitioning from a Corporal to a Sergeant in the Army Cadets and, without the virus, I would currently be sitting my GCSE exams.

"I’m 16 years old and I wrote this piece to show how the quarantine has affected me and my life, as well as my school colleagues and friends who are in a similar situation.

"I live in Sheffield, in South Yorkshire and love mountain biking and football. I hope you enjoy my article…"


Here is an extract from the winning entry. To read the full piece please click here.

The Summer of Sticking Tight

Quarantine. It sounds like the name of a post-apocalyptic film.

Some would have imagined people walking around in hazmat suits and gas masks and others may have envisaged soldiers patrolling the streets, gun in hand.

However, since Coronavirus reached Europe, countries all across the continent have discovered the reality. This lockdown would not make for an exciting movie.

Instead, we are all simply stuck inside; we have realised how easy it is to get bored. However, some of us have decided to make good use of this time and utilise it to our advantage ...

Honourable Mentions 

Oliver Radley: Off to See Hamlet

"I was inspired to write this story after a school trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and learning about Shakespeare.

I would love to go to the Globe Theatre one day so I imagined what it would be like to go there in Shakespeare's time."

Here is an extract from the entry. To read the full piece please click here.

Oliver Radley: Off to See Hamlet

The harsh wind swept across our faces as we marched along the road.

The Thames slapped the shore bringing more rotting carcasses along with it.

I can smell the foul gut wrenching excrement littering the road.

I should be used to that by now but I can’t get my head round it. I could see it now, the thatched roof of the theatre appearing over the houses.

My hands twitched in excitement! We were only about five minutes away now so mother made sure we didn’t look as poor as we are.

John, my brother, kicked at my heels to try and annoy me which he's very good at.

Fathers always hated John, complaining about his level of maturity for a seventeen-year-old. Sometimes he gets so fed up he just leaves mother to deal with him.

Millie Collier: Super Noodle The Golden Doodle    

"We have just got a new dog, we were going to get a Golden Doodle but we got a Labradoodle instead, which is where the idea came from.

"I love to read David Walliams, I have read all his books."

Here is an extract from the entry. To read the full piece please click here.

Chapter 1

The Mysterious Figure

Once upon a time there was a dog, not just any old dog, oh no, this dog was a golden doodle! And not just any old golden doodle, oh no, this was Super Noodle The Golden Doodle!

And as you probably already guessed he literally was Super.

He had the power to hypnotise anybody with his cuteness so he was pretty spoiled with his solid gold dog bone, pure diamond dog basket and the softest most comfy silk to go in the pure diamond dog basket, just to name a few of thousands upon millions of stuff that he most certainly did not need. 

The day our story starts he was trying to chew one of his solid gold dog bones, when the doorbell rang. As always maid rushed to it, her black and white uniform flapping uncontrollably as she did so. 

When she opened the door, she met with an unexpected face! It wasn’t the postman delivering fan mail, nor a tourist, or a journalist wanting to interview and have a selfie, it wasn’t a tidal wave of fans trying to get a selfie too.

Chloe Graham: How Life Has Changed

We don't care that our lives are on hold,

cause when this is over it's families we'll hold.

When lockdown is over and we're allowed out,

I'll appreciate the freedom without a doubt.


We're used to separation, families spread far,

but now we can't visit, not even by car.

Our plans are cancelled and trips away,

now we're stuck at home, here we'll stay.


I see people queuing  at shops, two meters apart.

Food shelves as empty as classrooms, panic at start. 

Seeing all my family upon a screen,

all those friends from school I haven't seen.


We're used to cheering soldiers back from war,

now we cheer for doctors, nurses and more. 

You see, my mum's a soldier, I think that's cool,

but now she's my teacher we can't go to school. 


Being with my family keeps me fit and well, 

though it sometimes feels like living in a cell. 

Homeschooling started, mum tried her best,

she is not as good as my teacher I must express! 

You can view more lockdown creative masterpieces here.