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Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition

Today we celebrate Commonwealth Day 2018 all around the world! Last year we asked our students to enter the The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and we had several wonderful entries. One of those, written by student Adam Sherriff, you can read below.


“The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition, managed by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. Every year, it offers all Commonwealth youth aged 18 and under the opportunity to express their hopes for the future, opinions of the present, and thoughts on the past, through the written word. The competition is used by individuals and teachers to build confidence, develop writing skills, support creativity and encourage critical thinking, using literacy to empower young people to become global citizens.” – The Royal Commonwealth Society.


This year we hope we will get even more entries. Please read the rules here, and send in your entries here so that we can enter them together as a group. Provide your name, country, age with birth date, and your chosen topic for your category. Please ensure that you are living in a Commonwealth Country.




by Adam Sherriff – Homeschooling IGCSE Student, Zambia

2017 entry in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition

Exam Centre: British Council, Zambia


Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition



This story begins with three people, myself (Adam) my mom and Nicole a friend of ours, we are about to embark on a 450 km journey on bicycle. We are in the middle of Africa, Central Zambia to be exact. We are traveling to the Bangwaelu Swamps.


Finally we start off after all the faffing around we did, about who has the smallest pack and who has the most water. The first 10 km required us to use the help of one of Nicole’s grooms, because we didn’t know how to get to the first point by using the ever intersecting footpaths that map the surrounding area like a spider’s web.


As we followed this grooms man we noticed he had no brakes on his bike and had to put his feet down on the ground scraping the bottom of his gumboots away. We found this funny because now we knew why they all needed a new pair of gumboots so regularly. As the paths brought us to a village which had a government run clinic which all our workers used, we went and thanked the doctor for his work that he was doing at the clinic.


The time came for us to be on our way, we handed the groom K20 to use on a drink or snack for himself. As we left, the road we used had overgrown trees that hung over the road which threatened to hold a snake that could leap out at any moment a bite us. We all knew about the distance ahead of us but we also knew we were strong enough to finish it.


That afternoon we passed an overturned truck that was carrying maize to go to market, the truck had been overloaded and the maize had been packed too high, which was very common on the roads of Zambia. As we passed the truck we saw the driver and his lorry boy making there fire looking quite helpless indeed. We didn’t stop to help because there was nothing to help with.


That night we took camp next to a shallow spring, 60 km from home, which we could take a cold washing in, that was probably going to be the last bath of the trip and we made it last.


The next day we started off with hope for the day and managed to cover about 70 km. That night was very peaceful and we went to sleep after having a nice meal of left over lasagna which we heated on a fire.


The next morning as we were packing up my mum got stung on her foot by a be leaving her unable to pedal well, Nicole and I took it in turns towing and pushing her which only let us cover a measly 30 km. That day I had eaten a boiled egg which didn’t exactly agree with my stomach and I spent that night rushing in and out of my tent to go use the “bathroom”.


The next morning we didn’t feel any rush to get started so we had a breakfast of muesli and cornflakes. That morning we turned onto a wider more used road which let us go faster because my mum’s foot had returned to its normal state. We covered about 100km that day because the slopes were in our favour and we had rested the day before. This left us with 220 km still to go we thought if we could manage to do 110 km each day we may finish in the time we suspected.


In the morning when it came time to leave I discovered my tire had become flat and told my mom and Nicole to go on ahead and said I would catch them up. After I had fixed my tyre I raced on ahead not knowing I had taken the wrong road I traveled along the road for about 10 km before I noticed I had, and hadn’t seen their tracks ahead of me. After I had turned around and gone on the correct track I knew they would be about 30 km ahead of me, I managed to only meet them at the next camp at about 08:00 that night they had been worrying the whole day about where I had gone. I told them my story and fell asleep right away.


The next day I woke up and realised that I had done about 130 km the day before which left us about 110 km to go. We only covered about 80 km that day because my tyre had two punctures, I could not wait to get tubeless tires I said in my head. We took camp and I only manage to get to sleep at about 12:00 that night.


The next day we started off at about 05:00 because we wanted to get there early. We arrived at about 08:00 and my dad greeted us with a joking “Dr. Livingstone I presume?” We had to tell our story before they let us go to sleep. All I could say was “At least I don’t have to go back that way!” and I fell asleep in a normal, comfortable bed.


Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition



Hopefully you will have been inspired by Adam’s essay, so why not put pen to paper and get writing your entry to the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition now!

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