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Children's Spring Poetry Competition

Poetry in Motion with Joseph Coelho

We’re calling on children aged between 5 and 13 to enter their poem into our free children’s poetry competition for a chance to have it displayed on trains and at stations across the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern network this summer.

About the competition

This spring, to encourage kids to step away from screens and challenge their creativity, we’ve teamed up with children’s poet and author, Joseph Coelho, to launch a poetry competition.

To enter, we are asking people aged between 5 and 13 years old to write a poem that is between 50 to 150 words long.

It needs to be about a place you enjoy visiting on the train with Southern, Thameslink or Great Northern, and it can also be about the place you live and want others to come and visit by train.

By entering into a national draw, 10 lucky winners will have the opportunity to have their poems displayed at stations and on trains across our network over the summer*. Additionally, winners will also receive complementary return rail travel for themselves and four family members, perfect for a summer's day out!

Submissions are open from 25 March 2024 and close 23:59 on 10 May 2024.

To kickstart the Poetry in Motion competition, Joseph Coelho has written his own piece titled "To Hastings We Go!" inspired by an exciting trip to Hastings via train. See Joseph's poem below.

Two children on a train

How to enter our free poetry competition

  1. Children aged 5-13 should write a poem about somewhere they love to visit on the Southern, Thameslink, or Great Northern network. If they prefer, it can be about the place they live and want others to visit by train on our network. View our network map here 
  2. The poem should be 50 to 150 words long and we encourage children to give this a go while travelling on a train during the Easter holidays
  3. Parents or Guardians should then complete the submission form below to enter the applicant’s poem

If you have accessibility requirements and would like support, please contact us at press.office@gtrailway.com or on 0203 750 2031.

Entry closes at 23:59 on Friday 10th May 2024. Winners will be contacted by email between 3 - 14 June. Please read the full terms and conditions below.

Submit your entry

What will be our criteria for judging your poem

Poems will be judged by Joseph Coelho, Govia Thameslink Railway and its partner PR agency based on the below criteria:

  • Language and Structure: The poem should demonstrate creative use of language and structure (25%)
  • Theme: The poem should clearly identify a location on or near (less than 10km away from) the Govia Thameslink Railway network (25%)
  • Creativity and Uniqueness: The poem should convey an emotive and entertaining message, where the writer’s voice clearly comes through (25%)
  • Inspiration: The poem should inspire the wider public to visit the location described in the poem (25%)

About Joseph Coelho

Author, Poet and Playwright Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate

Joseph Coelho is a best-selling, multi-award winning children’s playwright and author of over 40 books.

He writes across several mediums for children including stage plays, picture books, non-fiction and middle grade.

His The Boy Lost in The Maze is currently short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and has received international acclaim appearing on the White Raven Book list - Munich, The IBBY UK Honour Books List and awarded The Extraordinary Book of 2023 by The International Children's Literature Festival of Berlin.

Joseph is currently the Waterstone's Children’s Laureate 2022 - 2024.

A man sitting in a train carriage at a table with books

To Hastings We Go!

by Joseph Coelho

To Hastings we go,
to Hastings we go.
Where smugglers
tell tales from long, long ago.

Antiques line the streets
from the pebbly shore.
Where art makes us think
and arcades galore.

To Hastings we go,
to Hastings we go,
back in 1066
what a royal show!

King Harold defeated
"Yikes what a blow!"
Shame he didn't see
that naughty arrow.

To Hastings we go,
to Hastings we go,
take a funicular ride
"Look out below!"

Go-karts whizz
by the swishing sea.
Candy floss, rock -
fish and chips for me.

To Hastings we go,
to Hastings we go,
a daytrip by train
little did we know...

So much to discover
on the southern shore
just my family and me
and a whole coast to explore.

*Winning poems will be displayed on selected trains and stations across the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern network.