Newbury Park teen pens tale of war time heartbreak

A BUDDING author reached the final of a national competition for her heart-breaking tale of love torn apart by war.

Abigail Leach, of Newbury Park, wrote Wherever I Am after seeing the casualties returning from Afghanistan.

The 17-year-old said: “I saw coffins being loaded off planes, I thought what happens to the families left behind?

“So I wrote a story about a girl whose boyfriend goes to Afghanistan, and is killed.”

Abigail says the story is her first about war, but it was not the first time she put pen to paper. She has a healthy portfolio of short stories at her home in Ramsgill Drive.

The Wicked Young Writers Award, in its first year, seeks to nurture talent and encourage creativity in people aged 17-25, with the winner receiving a masterclass in writing from established authors judging the competition.

More then 3,500 young people entered the award, and though Abigail did not win, making the final has improved her confidence, and she has vowed to continue entering her work into competitions.

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Abigail’s story paints a stark image of Leonie, the main character, whose boyfriend goes to war, and her last night with him.

One extract is: “On that summer’s evening they had lain in bed in her old attic room, watching gulls stroke through the sky amid the golden beams of the setting sun. They smelt and tasted of sea. Both were trying to push the thought of his imminent departure from their minds. Just promise me you’ll come back. He had studied her face solemnly, nodded, and kissed her. But he lied.”

Staff at Abigail’s school, Oaks Park High School in Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, spoke of her avid love of books, which was noticed when she started in year seven, five years ago.

Linda Hayes, learning resources manager, who worked with Abigail when she was library monitor, said: “She came to me and showed me the story asking if I should enter the competition, and I said definitely.

“She is one of those pupils who will walk down the corridor reading a book.”