Commonwealth Voices Max de BourcierMax de Bourcier, Junior Winner of the Commonwealth Essay Competition 2014, took part in winner’s week in November. His essay on ‘Being a team player’ provided him with the opportunity to go to London and take part in educational and cultural activities, which he tells us all about here: 

“The Royal Commonwealth Society invited my Dad and I to London because I won the Junior category of the essay competition. On the first day we did a creative writing workshop. It was different to my lessons as school. We did mind mapping and learnt about each other and wrote short stories. The teacher was really interesting. I liked her Lego earrings and the egg sandwiches were good too.

The RCS organized lots of interesting things to do. We went up the Shard which is the tallest building in London. I liked using the electronic telescopes. They had a screen and a camera. I think they had a gyroscope and accelerometer inside. I looked at buildings, trains and the Thames. I was surprised how tall the Shard was and my ears popped in the elevator.

We went to the Houses of Parliament. I thought we were going to see some houses so I was really surprised when I saw how big it was. We went into the debating chamber and got to stand where the politicians actually sit. We weren’t allowed to sit down because we are not members of parliament.   Above us was a huge piece of bullet-proof glass which cost £2 million pounds. I thought this was very interesting. It was put in after someone threw a packet of flour.

We went on a train to Cambridge. We saw Fitzwilliam College. He had a tour of the library. I found the old panoramas of China very interesting. We went punting. It was very relaxing and I fell asleep. The view along the river was very beautiful.

We had a tour of the BBC. It was very interesting because it was interactive and we were able to do lots of things. I had a photograph pretending to be a newsreader and I tried to present the weather. I watched a group of people doing a radio sit-com. It was quite funny. I learned about how they did sound effects.

The highlight of the visit was going to Buckingham Palace. We had to arrive very early with our passports so that they would let us in. We went to the throne room and did a rehearsal. We learnt about where we had to stand, the correct words to use and when to bow. Then we had a tour of the Palace. We saw some paintings and learnt about the rules for dining with the Queen.

After the tour it was time to get in our positions in the throne room. There was a hush when the Duchess of Cornwall walked in. My name was called and I walked up to the Duchess of Cornwall. I shook her hand. She gave me a certificate signed by her. When we had all received our prizes we all had a chat and shook hands with lots of people.

I was really excited to meet Dr. Tom Whyntie who is a scientist from CERN. When he read my essay, he wrote a letter to me. It was great to meet him because he was funny and told some good jokes. I talked to him about CERN and what it was like to work there. We spent a lot of time talking about vending machines because in CERN you can get everything you need such as toothpaste, shampoo and food from machines. This is important when you are very busy being a particle or theoretical physicist.

The Duchess of Cornwall was really friendly. I wasn’t nervous as we had done the practice but I forgot to say “Good morning Your Royal Highness”. The Duchess was kind and congratulated me.  Afterwards we had our photos taken with the Duchess.

The whole week was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a life changing experience because not many people get to go to Buckingham Palace. The whole thing has changed my attitude because before I won this prize I didn’t think it was possible for someone like me to win anything to do with writing because I am dyslexic. I am quite good at IT, DT and practical science and at home I like Lego, remote controlled cars, drones and making things. I like writing computer code. You have to say what you want the computer to do in the smallest amount of words possible and you have to be very precise. This is the opposite of creative writing where you have to make it long, complicated and use descriptive using big words. Winning the competition has given me the confidence to keep trying to write essays.”

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Royal Commonwealth Society.