Poetry competition to honour those lost in World War One

Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher has used the backdrop of a newly restored painting of the bombardment of the town to launch a poetry competition with the Mail to mark the start of the First World War. The Mayor pictured with Hartlepool Mail assistant editor Gavin Ledwith.
Hartlepool Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher has used the backdrop of a newly restored painting of the bombardment of the town to launch a poetry competition with the Mail to mark the start of the First World War. The Mayor pictured with Hartlepool Mail assistant editor Gavin Ledwith.

THE Hartlepool Mail can today reveal first details of a new contest to honour those who lost their lives on the most momentous day in the town’s history.

We have teamed up with Hartlepool Borough Council to launch a poetry competition to mark the upcoming cententary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool on December 16.

Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher has used the backdrop of a newly restored paining of the bombardment of th town to launch a poetry competition with the Mail to mark th start of the First World War.

Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher has used the backdrop of a newly restored paining of the bombardment of th town to launch a poetry competition with the Mail to mark th start of the First World War.

Anywhere between 108-123 people were killed as a result of the onslaught on the town by the German Navy in 1914.

The exact figure varies because many of the 200 people wounded in the shelling by three warships never recovered from their injuries.

A series of events will commemorate the centenary with the competition forming a key part of what is planned.

The winners of two age categories will have their poem published in an official brochure and will also have the opportunity to read their work out at a civic reception.

Leaflets are to be sent to schools and colleges to encourage pupils to enter the under 11 and 11-19 age categories.

The Mail also intends to print as many of the poems as possible in the paper before judges choose the winning and highly commended entries.

The Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, joined Mail assistant editor Gavin Ledwith at the competition’s launch and said: “I would like to thank the Mail for giving us this opportunity to work with them to encourage more young people to learn about the bombardment.

“It is a real exciting way of getting them to explore such an important date in our history.

“It is a date which should always be remembered and I am a great believer that we should look at the past to help us in the future.”

The competition, part of the Mail’s Hartlepool at War series of articles marking the centenary of the First World War’s outbreak, centres on James Clark’s famed Bombardment of the Hartlepools painting.

The borough council has had the West Hartlepool-born artist’s painting lovingly restored by experts so that it can form the centrepiece of a new bombardment exhibition.

Mark Simmons, the authority’s museums manager, added: “They have done a fantastic job and you can make out so much more detail in the painting’s figures.”

Now we want you to use Clark’s work, currently hanging inside Hartlepool Civic Centre, as the inspiration for a lasting tribute to those who fought or died nearly a century ago.

Mr Ledwith said: “We already know that schools across town are studying both the war and bombardment in this centenary year and hope they can find the time to fit this educational challenge into their work.

“The Mail is committed to publishing entries and we are sure the standard of poetry will turn the judges’ important task into an extremely difficult one.”

JAMES Clark’s painting is the definitive artistic tribute to those who lost their lives during the Bombardment of Hartlepool.

So it is only fitting that it forms the inspiration for our competition.

What we want entrants to do is to study Clark’s painting before writing a poem of no more than 100 words.

Themes you may want to cover include what it would have been like to have been caught up in arguably the biggest event in the town’s history.

It could be that you write your poem from the perspective of one of the various types of people illustrated by Clark.

You may also want to consider the period and location of the painting or describe generally what is going on.

The closing dates for submissions is Friday, October 10, with the Mail publishing as many of the entries as possible.

The contest is divided into two age groups, under 11 and 11-19 years, with judges choosing a winner and three highly commended entries from each category. The winning entries will be published in an official commemorative brochure to mark the anniversary and the winners will also have the opportunity to read their work at the civic reception itself.

Further details about additional prizes will be announced later. Completed entries should be sent to: War Poetry Competition, Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.