The Oscar and BAFTA awards winning actress has thrilled youngsters and teachers at schools throughout the Blandford and Sturminster Newton areas by agreeing to judge the ‘Icons in the Landscape’ competition. This is in support of the fund raising campaign to replace the roof on the barn owls’ tumbledown home at Bere Marsh Farm in which they have nested and reared young for over 20 years.
Charlotte Weatherley, assistant headteacher of Knighton House School and creator of the Icons competition, said, “It is no exaggeration to say excitement levels are through the roof. We are absolutely delighted by Dame Judi’s wonderful gesture of support as she will be offering her expertise to our young writers and performers and casting an expert gaze over their efforts.”
The competition, which has a junior section for youngsters in the 7-11 age group and a senior category open to those aged between 12-14, requires entrants to write, perform and record a poem inspired by the term, Icons in the Landscape. They can, if they wish, ask someone else to perform it or be joined by others in their own performance.
It is open to all the schools in the Blandford Schools Network.
Overall, it is anticipated that close to 1,000 youngsters will take part in the competition for which the closing date is 13 November.
It is in support of the £30,000 fund raising campaign launched last month by the wildlife friendly farming charity, the Countryside Restoration Trust, as its first initiative after the purchase of the iconic Bere Marsh Farm at Shillingstone, near Blandford Forum.
The barn owls, a key indicator species of a healthy eco environment and regularly spotted by families, ramblers, naturalists and cyclists using trailways and footpaths which cross the 92-acre farm, are in severe danger of becoming homeless – just before the onset of winter – because the roof of their ancient barn is on the brink of collapse.
The support and enthusiasm of the schools for the beloved owls struck Dame Judi, patron of the Countryside Restoration Trust, and so she decided the youngsters should get her support.
Joining her in the judging duties will be local Dorset poet and writer, David Caddy, author of eight books and editor of the international literary journal, Tears in the Fence.
Announcement of the winning entries and runners up will be on 27 November.
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