I was so amazed when I heard that I was the Junior winner of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, and the prize was a trip to London for educational and cultural activities with many other exciting things to do. I was able to bring one of my parents along and the Royal Commonwealth Society very kindly paid for all travel and accommodation for them as well as myself. I was lucky that both of my parents were able to come along as this was going to be a long journey; we had to travel approximately 16,000 miles to get to London. It was also a trip of a lifetime.
We left Tristan [da Cunha, a cluster of islands in the South Atlantic] on the 1st October and arrived in London on the 11th October. We had the privilege of staying in the Citadines Hotel in Trafalgar Square which was really lovely. It was organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society.
On Monday morning, 12th October 2015, all the winners were greeted by Louisa Guillaume [staff member at the RCS] who we met in the lobby of the Citadines Hotel. She would be accompanying the winners and parents throughout the week. She gave us a short briefing of what our week would entail. Then all the winners went to the High Commission of Cyprus where we attended a writing workshop. We spent our time there writing a poem, making words into shapes. I made a volcano as the island of Tristan da Cunha where I am living is volcanic. We did spider web questions which I did really enjoy, and I found great fun.
After having lunch with our parents accompanied by Louise, we all went to visit the Shard, the tallest building in Europe. It was a really beautiful and sunny day, so we were able to see all around London. This was a really lovely sight to see and a great experience for both of my parents and myself as we hadn’t visited London before.
Tuesday 13th October, we all went to visit Parliament, where we saw The Queen’s throne in the House of Lords and also we visited the House of Commons. Visiting the House of Lords was only for about five minutes, but it was such a privilege to have seen this all.
We also visited Holland Park School. This was a massive school that has approximately 1,400 students, compared to my school on Tristan that is so small and only has 28 children, I couldn’t believe it. They very kindly gave us a lovely lunch and a lovely tour around the school. It was so amazing to see. That afternoon we visited the Evening Standard, where the Daily Mail, Independent and the Eye newspapers are all produced.
On Wednesday 14th October we spent the day at Cambridge. We caught a train and first visited Fitzwilliam College. At the Fitzwilliam Café I had some coffee and a really large sugared ring doughnut which I enjoyed very much. My mum and dad had sandwiches.
After having lunch, we walked to the river for punting, I had a lovely day and really enjoyed going up the river and seeing all the old looking colleges, not to mention all the ducks following us up and down the river.
We also visited Cambridge University where we were given a tour and taken to the archives were we saw interesting records of Cyprus, Tristan, Botswana and the Cayman Islands [the home countries of the winners and runners-up]. My dad and I also saw some lovely old pictures of his dad, Grandfather and Grandmother which were really great to see.
Thursday came, this was the most wonderful day of all; the Award Ceremony at Buckingham Palace where The Duchess of Cornwall presented us with our awards and after the award ceremony one of the Royal Staff took us for a tour around Buckingham Palace. This was another once in a life time experience. The last person to visit Buckingham Palace from Tristan da Cunha was in 1961.
After leaving Buckingham palace the Royal Commonwealth Society very kindly took us for a farewell lunch at Pizza Express and then to the BBC for another lovely tour. This was the end of our very interesting week; a week I will never forget.
I wish to thank all those who supported me and my family throughout the winners’ week in London especially the Royal Commonwealth Society team.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society