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 is one of the adult entries and the story behind it.
Stacey Heartford: The Pride
"I wrote The Pride in April whilst ill and in isolation.
"Acutely aware of the impact of COVID-19 on my own children, and all the children across the forces world, I wanted to write something to help them to accept their own fluctuating emotions, and more importantly bring them hope.
"I decided to write a story about some lion cubs, to whom anyone can relate, who are going through an experience much the same as all of us right now.
"The Pride has since been shared with all the children at RAF Akrotiri Primary school who have been busily creating artwork to illustrate my words.
"This has given them the opportunity to use their own imagination and create something wonderful and meaningful for themselves.
"I would dearly love my words to reach children all over the forces world to help them cope and understand, celebrating their own brilliance and resilience during this difficult time."
Imari and Ayo have whiskers and paws,
A mother who hunts and a father who roars,
A mother who loves them, a father who’s King
Imari and Ayo have everything.
Imari and Ayo know how to run,
They know how to chase, they know how to have fun.
They know that their life is wild and carefree,
They know they’re happy as can be.
Imari and Ayo have a home on the plains,
Under a sky where it never rains,
Where wild animals graze by the watering hole,
Their Pride together, their family whole.
Imari and Ayo wake early one morning,
And watch mother hunting as daylight is dawning.
She comes back with breakfast, the Pride have a feast,
Then they laze in the sun, the whole world is at peace.
But father returns to the Pride with a roar!
He says “All is not well”, and their world is unsure.
He tells them of news from the edge of their Pride,
That an illness is spreading, and many have died!
Imari and Ayo just don’t understand,
They see mother and father pacing the sand,
And they know now that life is about to change,
Everything’s different and everything’s strange.
Imari and Ayo go back with their mother,
To the den where she had them as sister and brother;
Two tiny young cubs born under the shade
Of the great old tree, where their family was made.
They enter the dark and blink in the gloom,
Not able to leave and go out from this room.
It’s to keep them from harm to make the Pride safe,
This is the reason they can’t leave this place.
For days and for weeks they stay inside their den.
“When will we see our family again?”
The cubs are confused and feel lonely and bored,
“We have nothing to do!” Imari roared.
Mother said “Let’s make the best of this!”
She cuddled them, gave them each a kiss.
She taught them how to stalk a prey,
She gave them lessons every day.
They drew animals in the dirt with claws,
And played tag with their dusty paws.
They played new games and made up songs,
They hoped this wouldn’t last for long.
And every night without delay,
father came back home with prey,
And they would eat and he would leave,
To take food to those most in need.
For weeks the whole Pride stayed apart,
The virus tore through the country’s heart.
Many animals ill or sick,
They said it wouldn’t clear up quick.
Imari and Ayo asked mother why,
And mother gave a heavy sigh.
She said “To stop it spreading more,
You mustn’t touch another’s paw”.
“From our den we mustn’t stray,
To hunt or laugh or run or play,
We’ll stay away from everyone,
Until we know that it has gone.”
Imari and Ayo woke early one morning,
To the sound of fathers roaring!
The roar it sounded deep andloud,
To show them all that he was proud!
“Thanks to your patience, you, My Pride,
Waiting in the dark inside,
The sickness that was in the land,
Has turned to dust deep in the sand!”
At once they dashed to greet their Pride,
With great big smiles, paws open wide,
Afraid no more, the danger gone,
Free once more to play and run!
Click here to read more lockdown creative masterpieces