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Gifted young authors celebrated at special awards ceremony

Layla Hendow, winner of the 2011 IGGY & Litro International Short Story Competition, with Eric Akoto, Editor in Chief, LitroThe University of Warwick’s International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) has rewarded six talented young authors with a cash boost after receiving some fantastic entrants into an international short story competition.

Student Layla Hendow, 19, has received £2,500 for her prize-winning story La Maison de Dieu, and will now see her story printed in the Sunday Times and on a poster displayed at a prominent London Underground Station.

Kate Baguley (19), Ruth Ingamells (19), Charlotte Poulter (19), Chester Pylkkanen (13) and Lillian Fishman (17) were all commended for their shortlisted stories at a special ceremony at the 3i offices in London. The University of Warwick and IGGY were so impressed by the high standard of the shortlisted entries they decided to award £250 to each of the five runners-up.

This opportunity arose thanks to a partnership, now in its second year, between the free monthly literary magazine Litro and IGGY, a global organisation aimed at the brightest and most creative young people from around the world. Together with a University of Warwick alumnus, the two organisations offered a £2,500 prize for the best short story by an 11-19 year old.

The judges this year were Cathy Galvin (Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times Magazine); acclaimed author Abdelkader Benali; poet, playwright and performer Sabrina Mahfouz; and Honorary Teaching Fellow for the Warwick Writing Programme George Ttoouli.

Judge George Ttoouli said:

The six finalists' stories all show a great sense of immediacy as you read them. It's as if you're in these imagined lives and stories, watching them play out."

Prize-Giving Ceremony:



La Maison de Dieu, Layla Hendow

As the priest turned to lock the Eucharist behind its golden gates, he heard the wooden doors of the church swing open quickly. For a spilt second he heard again the world outside.

‘Je suis très désolé,’ he called out. ‘La masse commence à dix heures et demi.’

He heard the light click of a woman’s heels inside the shadows of the far end of the church.

‘Hello? Bonjour?’ She spoke in a textbook French accent. ‘L'anglais, s'il vous plait,’ she said meekly. She was seemingly lost in the vastness of the pews.

Suddenly she appeared from the shadows in the North Aisle. He stared at the girl in surprise. Her hair was parted centrally and fell in black waves over her petite shoulders. Sunglasses were placed upon her head like a crown despite the rain beyond those walls and a large, professional camera dangled from her neck. She wore little red gloves, which she took off carefully and placed on the table next to the door to dry.

L’anglais?’ she asked again, unsure what the man’s silence could otherwise mean.

‘Yes,’ the priest said slowly. ‘I said you were early. Mass does not begin until ten thirty. You weren’t to know.’

‘Oh no!’ she said, letting out a small, child-like giggle. ‘I’m not here for mass. I’m not even a Christian. I was wondering if I could take some photographs of your beautiful church.’

Notes to Editors


Litro is London’s leading short stories magazine that publishes new, original short fiction that excites us and offers a creative alternative to disposable free papers. Previous contributors include Irvine Welsh, Yiyun Li, Glyn Maxwell, Benjamin Zephaniah, Enua Ellams, and Andrew Crumey. 100,000 copies are distributed monthly around London and the UK, within libraries, galleries, bars and cafes, you can subscribe to the magazine by visiting .

IGGY - International Gateway for Gifted YouthIGGY - the International Gateway for Gifted Youth - is an international network of the brightest and most creative young people aged 11-19.

It provides enhanced learning and leadership development opportunities and connects intellectually able young people - the world’s next generation of leaders – to build greater understanding and tolerance and strengthen the way in which future global challenges are addressed.

For further information please contact:

Eric Akoto, Editor in Chief, Litro Magazine on 0203 371 9971, or on 07979 073 770. Alternatively email

Luke Hamer, Assistant Press Officer, University of Warwick on 02476 575601, or on 07824 541142. Alternatively email