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Young Citizen: Seven Kings writer, 16, truimphs over mental health challenges

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 July 2018

Former Labour politician Ed Balls present Kashif Chowdhury with the Wicked Young Writers' Award. Photo: Ellie Kurttz

Former Labour politician Ed Balls present Kashif Chowdhury with the Wicked Young Writers' Award. Photo: Ellie Kurttz

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An award-winning 16-year-old Seven Kings writer is championing the power of the pen to overcome mental health struggles.

Kashif Chowdhury, of Herbert Road, was crowned champion of the Wicked Young Writer Awards 2018 in the 15 to 17 ages category by former Labour MP Ed Balls on June 21.

His winning story, titled “All is Quiet on the Western Front”, aims to shine an alternative light on the life in the trenches for soliders during the First World War.

“I was really anxious,” he said, reflecting on how he felt as his name was called out as the winner.

“I thought ‘don’t fall over yourself as you do normally.’”

He was picked from more than 110 finalists by a judging panel including children’s author Cressida Cowell and south London poet Caleb Femi, as well as Mr Balls.

His story was influenced by the works of English poet and soldier Wilfred Owen, who he had studied during his GCSEs,

“Most people think about the fighting aspect of the war,” he said.

“But the reality behind that is that there is a lot of waiting around in the trenches. There is a mundane aspect to it.”

Describing what the award means to him, he said: “It means a lot. Over the past few years I have struggled a lot with self-esteem, confidence and obsessive compulsive disorder.

“It’s really hard when you are stuck with those thoughts to focus on your positive achievements.

“But now I know that some people know my work and that it is worth something.”

Off the back of his writing achievements, his sister Jashim put him forward as this week’s Young Citizen nominee.

The Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club Young Citizen Award is about celebrating the amazing young people in our borough.

It is run by the Recorder in conjunction with Redbridge Rotary Club, and sponsored by The Exchange shopping centre, Ilford, which provides each monthly winner with a £30 gift card. The Young Citizen of the Year will be crowned at the Mayor’s Community Awards in March.

You can nominate any person from Redbridge, as long as they are under-25, by completing the form on our website.

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