The Mayor’s Poetry Competition for schools 2021

The Mayor has launched a poetry competition for young people aged five to 16 years old to celebrate the River Loddon.

The River Loddon, runs through the borough of Basingstoke and Deane and is one of just 224 chalk streams on the planet, many of which are in the south of England. Chalk streams are vital, a unique part of our biodiversity of plants and animals and need protecting and preserving

The Mayor is inviting students to get involved and get creative by entering the competition with poems inspired by the River Loddon.

There are three age categories: five to seven, eight to 11, and 12 to 16. An iPad is up for grabs for the winner in each category, with book tokens for the runners up. The three winners and three runners-up will be invited to a presentation ceremony hosted by the Mayor early next year.

The six judges will be the Mayor Cllr Onnalee Cubitt, award winning poet Vic Pickup, publicist Atalanta de Jersey Lowney, English teacher Jean Elliot, English teacher Chris Fielding-Smith and bestselling author Lucy Jones.

The competition runs until Friday 17 December 2021.

How to enter

To enter the competition, you must be aged between five and 16 years old on the date of the deadline 16 December 2021.

It is free to enter.

Poems must be in English, British Sign Language or Braille.


Enter your poem by email to

Schools of groups

If you are a school, youth group or an adult that would like to submit poems by more than one young person, you can enter your students’ or young people’s work by email to

Queries and further information

If you have any questions, email

Please use this email to tell the competition team if you would like to submit a hand-written entry that cannot be emailed.

Suggested themes

The young poets can let their creativity flow but if they need ideas to get started, these themes aim to inspire them to get started at school or at home:

  • Cinderella river: the Loddon has been referred to as the Cinderella river as it is hard working, but often overlooked. Poets could use Cinderella, or a fairy tale theme, to bring the river and its wildlife to life or create a story about what is happening to the chalk stream.

  • Oceanus, Father of River Gods : The British Museum is now home to a Roman bust of Oceanus that was found in Basingstoke riverbed in 2020. You could draw on his myth to make Oceanus protector of the chalk stream.


The poetry competition is open for entries until 16 December 2021. It is free to enter and is open to poets aged five to 16 years old. Poems should be submitted by emailing

The rules are:

  • You must be aged between five and 16 years old on the closing date of Friday 17 December 2021 to enter.
  • One poem per poet.
  • The competition is free to enter.
  • The judges are looking for original work that expresses hope, fear, anger , joy or any other response to the River Loddon.
  • Poems can be up to 750 words on the theme of the River Loddon. Young poets can use the start ideas – the Cinderella river or Oceanus or their own ideas.
  • Work is accepted on the basis that this will be its first publication anywhere in the world. This includes print and online media such as anthologies, magazines, solo collections, school prints and newsletters. It also includes social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Poems cannot have been broadcast on any regional, national or online TV station or via any radio platform.
  • Poems cannot have won any other competition.
  • Poems must be the original work of the author.
  • Poems must be in English, British Sign Language or Braille.
  • Competition entries cannot be returned. Those entering should keep a copy of the poem entered.
  • By entering this competition, entrants agree that their poems may be published in local news and social media. The competition team will ask if poets are happy for us to publish their name and photograph if they win.
  • If entrants are under 13 years old, their parent or guardian will need to give permission for them to enter. Without this permission, we are not allowed to keep information, such as contact details. This is because of data protection rules. Permission can be given using the consent form.
  • Teachers, librarians and youth leaders do not have to use the permission form but should comply with their own organisation’s data protection policy.
  • The judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into concerning this decision.
  • All email entries must be received by midnight on 17 December 2021.
  • We are unable to respond individually to submissions.

Rules: winners

  • All six winning poets - three winners and three commended will be notified in January 2022 and invited to an award ceremony. All winners will be required to provide a biography, photograph, permission form and proof of age.
  • The winners in each age group will win an iPad. The runners up will receive book tokens.
  • Only successful entrants will be notified.
  • The copyright of each poem remains with the author. However, by entering the competition, authors of the winning poems grant us the right to publish and/or broadcast their poem and do this before anyone else.
  • Authors of the winning poems will grant us irrevocable, non-exclusive licence to republish the work in perpetuity. We will notify the writer if a third-party requests permission to use their work in any way.

PDF document Mayors poetry competition 2021 information booklet(PDF) [2 Mb]

Images by Christopher Hawkins
All images by Christopher Hawkins

River Bed Image by Christopher Hawkins

River Loddon Image by Christopher Hawkins

Contact us

  • Contact us online
  • 01256 844844
  • Civic Offices
    London Road
    RG21 4AH
  • Opening hours
    Monday to Thursday
    8.30am to 5pm
    8.30am to 4.30pm
Give us feedback