A Dromore teenager and aspiring author, moved by the story of wartime diarist Anne Frank, is hoping her own award-winning prose might inspire her peers.
Holly O’Connor (15) was recently named as one of two winners in a nationwide campaign culminating in this month’s anniversary of Anne Frank’s capture by the Nazis.
On August 4, 1944, 71 years ago, Anne Frank and those in hiding with her in Amsterdam were discovered by the Gestapo and sent to concentration camps. Anne’s last diary entry was dated August 1, 1944.
Seven months after their arrest, she and her sister died in the Bergen-Belsen camp.
Their father, Otto, the only survivor of those in the hiding place, decided to honour his daughter’s wish and share Anne’s diary with the world; it has since gone on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide.
The run-up to the anniversary of Anne’s capture saw the launch of Generation Diary, a yearlong digital diary open to 13-15 year-olds and aimed at inspiring young people to have a voice, as Anne did.
The campaign invited teens, of the age Anne was when writing her diary, to upload entries throughout the year. Those entries are now being analysed by the University of Kent Department of Social Psychology to capture a snapshot of the thinking of UK teens.
From among hundreds of entries received, Holly’s, and Luton girl, Mya-Jade Saxby’s, were selected as winners by judges including actress Jing Lusi (Holby City, Law and Order: UK) and popular children’s authors Cathy Cassidy and Justin Somper, who will later this week provide the two girls with a writing masterclass at Penguin’s Random House UK headquarters on The Strand in London.
Holly, whose entry the judges described as “a beautifully written entry, full of hope, optimism and heart”, is looking forward to her trip to London.
“Writing and reading has always been a huge passion of mine ,” she said, “and I’ve always found other young writers inspiring and intriguing.
“When I was still in primary school I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I became fascinated with her story and fell in love with her words.
“Following in her footsteps, I decided to keep a journal and I ended up uploading an entry to the Generation Diary contest run by the Anne Frank Trust.
“I wrote the entry some time ago and based it around an image I took on a Dromore High School trip to Venice last year.
“I wanted people in my generation to read it and feel inspired to reach out to others and achieve what they didn’t think was possible.
“When I found out my entry had won, I was shocked and completely over the moon. I can’t believe the opportunity that has been given to me and I’m looking forward to my visit to London. I hope I can continue improving my writing and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
The winning entries - ‘Diary of a feminist’ and ‘Beautiful places and beautiful people’ - can be viewed on www.generationdiary.org.uk.