Friday, May 12th, 2017.

A trailblazing project nurturing the creative talents of Excelsior Academy pupils landed a prestigious prize at a glittering awards ceremony featuring the cream of North East cultural talent.

The Young Writers City project at Excelsior scooped the Special Award for Youth Achievement at The Journal Culture Awards at a packed Hexham Abbey last night.

More than 400 people filled the historic venue to celebrate the region’s wealth of literary, drama and musical talent.

Excelsior Academy Executive Principal Craig Taylor saw talented pupils Yazmin Southall, James Robson and Zara Rizwan take to the stage to collect the honour on behalf of Excelsior Academy and Young Writers City.

The project introduces young people to creative writing, helping their talent blossom, giving them the confidence to express themselves through writing, rapping and video production.

New Writing North’s Emily Wiseman is leading the five-year Young Writer’s City project in the academy and accompanied the pupils into the limelight at the awards ceremony.

Emily said: “It is amazing that the project and the young people on it are getting the recognition they deserve in this way.

“It was a magnificent night and those students who represented the academy did such a good job – I was so proud of them.

“Excelsior has such a wealth of creative talent within it and it is really important that the region recognises the talent that is within the school.

“Young Writers City is a city-wide project that is aimed at engaging young people who might not otherwise choose to engage in these creative projects.

“We were so well received by the young people in Excelsior who were so hungry for the project that it has just grown organically – we found students who were into rapping so we found rappers to come in and work with them; they wanted to work on screenwriting and we let them lead on those projects.

“The project has been so successful because students have taken ownership of it. They take a mix of skills from it.

“There’s definitely an element of personal and academic development, gaining more confidence with their peers or students they may otherwise not have spoken to. They develop a sense their voice is very valuable and get the chance to present their creative work – the more you do that, the more doors it opens out into the world.”

Craig said: “Our Journal Culture Award is in recognition of the powerful and innovative partnership we have established with New Writing North.

“Other awards presented on the night were for Museum of the Year – MIMA, Cultural Event of the Year – Tall Ships, Performance of the Year – Dave Johns – star of I, Daniel Blake – so it really is quite an achievement for us.

“Thanks and congratulations to the English team for embracing this partnership and to a huge number of our pupils who have produced some amazing work during the year.

“Particular thanks go to Emily Wiseman from New Writing North and Natalie Bryce for pulling the whole thing together.”