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 the winning under 18s entry and the story behind it. Click here for more creative masterpieces.
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…"
Joe Matthews: 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.
Personally, my Strava has started to become full of, what I’ve creatively named, ‘Corona Courses’.
Before the lockdown, I would always aspire to have the opportunity to discover the beauty of a new place on my bike, but in this isolation, I’ve begun to explore my local woods more, and I’ve been inspired to go further and be more creative with my rides.
Without the lockdown, this may never have happened.
I’ve been lucky enough to ride in beautiful places likes Wales and even Canada, but I’ve learned that just a five-minute walk away, is a whole new labyrinth of trails and paths that I can ride every day.
I don’t need to hop on an uplift or load a bike onto the shuttle, it’s all already there waiting for me.
Whilst I’m enjoying my time out on the trails, there are the unfortunate few who may not be so happy by the end of quarantine.
As we left school, we heard that our grades would not be decided by a final exam, but a prediction based upon all of our work up until that point and any exams and mocks we had already done.
For me, this simply relieves me of exams and I’m fairly confident that my grades will be a fair reflection of myself.
However, for those people who had struggled to get the grades previously, their fate is to be decided by someone else; a daunting realisation that you do not have a definite say on your results.
I cannot begin to comprehend the pressure they feel as their future is decided by algorithms and their teachers.
Furthermore, I think this can be taken as a lesson to all students: when your teachers are constantly telling you to work hard all year round, it is a good idea to listen to them.
Ultimately, the people who did as they were instructed, and revised methodically, will succeed, and those who were waiting to cram revise a week before the exams may fail.
I must say, I feel sorry for those people who do not fit the trend and worked hard but struggled regardless.
This group of people is where the underdog stories come from, of people defying expectation to pass certain subjects and go to universities, sixth forms and colleges they couldn’t have imagined.
However, in the class of 2020, there will be no underdog stories, and we will never truly know what this year’s results would be.
On my last day, one of my lessons was Maths. Our teacher, who was quite a strict character, broke down his tough exterior and told us how the lack of exams saddened him.
He told us how he had been excited to watch us show what we could do. He said he thought we were going to be his highest performing class ever.
When usually there may have been the odd chatter somewhere around the room, everyone was silent, fully concentrated on his words. It was a solemn moment. He also told us about how he had been raising the grade boundaries for our mocks, and had been in all his set 1 classes, so that we wouldn’t become complacent.
For a few of my friends, this provided a little more certainty and made a few people realise that even the seemingly strict teachers do honestly care. He had pushed all year long and now it was going to pay off.
Adding to the list of things I may have to miss out on, Annual Camp 2020 may be cancelled. This year, it was to be held at Barry Buddon training camp in Scotland. It is the ideal senior cadet training camp and was starting to become a major event in my summer.
I remember long tired nights, patrolling dark, desolate roads out in the middle of nowhere, making memories worth remembering for a long time. It seems that I may have to wait just that little bit longer to, once again, have a rifle in hand.
So, whilst we stay at home, save lives, and protect the NHS, I’d like to think that among the isolation, the queues at Tesco and the shortage of PPE, there are positives to look out for.
Nevertheless, I hope that the day the lockdown restrictions are lifted, the sun is high in a bright blue sky because I cannot wait to enjoy the long summer I’ve been waiting for since I first saw y11’s walking out after exams.
I can’t wait for the day when I sit back and watch my mates play football as the sun sets over the crossbar. Now that I’ve been made to wait a little longer, I really hope it lives up to my great expectations
You can view more lockdown creative masterpieces here.