Quainton schoolgirl takes top prize in BBC Radio’s 500 Words competition

Lauren Cook with her mum Niki at the Radio 2 500 Words competition
Lauren Cook with her mum Niki at the Radio 2 500 Words competition

A nine-year-old girl from Quainton has won the Gold award in her age group at BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition.

Lauren Cook won the prize for her entry ‘The Kindest of Strangers’, about a homeless man who selflessly gives food to a young girl.

The competition has been running as part of Chris Evans breakfast show on Radio 2 and on Friday June 16 the top three across the two age groups were announced during a special show at the Tower of London.

Lauren was presented with her trophy by Jenny Agutter, who also read out Lauren’s work as part of the show.

Lauren, who goes to Ashfold School in Dorton, attended the show along with her mum Niki who told the Herald about where her daughter’s passion for writing started.

Niki said: “Her passion for writing has really increased in the past six months.

Lauren Cook pictured with presenter Chris Evans at Radio 2's 500 Words competition

Lauren Cook pictured with presenter Chris Evans at Radio 2's 500 Words competition

“I think she was inspired by David Walliams children’s books and she has felt braver about putting pen to paper.

“Her grandma is an author so it is in the family a bit!”

Niki says she can recall Lauren taking an interest in the competition when she heard one of the entries for 2015 being read out while they listened to the radio on the school run.

She added: “I think the idea for this story came during Halloween last year.

Lauren Cook with actress Jenny Agutter, who presented her award and read her entry at the Radio 2 500 Words competition

Lauren Cook with actress Jenny Agutter, who presented her award and read her entry at the Radio 2 500 Words competition

“She likes to write about people who are kind and she likes a twist in her stories and this did both!

“Other than me helping with a couple of spellings it was all her own work.”

Niki said that she and husband Mike made a lot of fuss out of their daughter when they were contacted by the BBC saying they had made the initial shortlist.

She said: “They had about 5,000 entries initially so this was an achievement in itself.

“We had an e-mail from the BBC about Easter saying we had made the final and it was unbelievable just to get there.

“I told Lauren not to be disappointed if she didn’t win and we had no expectations of winning.

“It was such a shock for me and I was quite emotional about it!

“Lauren took it all in her stride, even meeting the celebrities that were there, she just treated it like it was normal.”

As well as the trophy, Lauren also won 500 books for Ashfold School and a pile of books equivalent to Chris Evans height for herself.