Dimosthenis Dimitrios Despotidis. Photo: Courtesy of Margarita Vartholomeou
LONDON – Within the framework of collaboration of the British Council with Never Such Innocence (NSI), a foundation based in London, an exciting competition was launched for another year, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), the formal acceptance by the Allies in World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on May 8, 1945.
NSI began as a World War I commemoration project for children and young people. From 2019, it expanded its focus to include conflict in all forms and throughout history, up to and including the present day. The foundation aims to give children and young people across the world a voice on conflict, offering opportunities to reflect on conflict throughout history and today through poetry, art, song and speeches.
This year’s theme was “The impact of Conflict on Communities” with a bonus 75 category commemorating seventy-five years since the end of WWII. Children and young people from all over the world were invited submit a poem, speech, song, or art work, responding to WWII and how it impacted their community. In partnership with the British Army, the Bonus Strand “A Fight for Freedom” encouraged young people to also reflect on the contributions made by the Commonwealth countries of Africa and the Caribbean during WWII.
Dimosthenis-Dimitrios Despotidis, an eighth grade student from Campion International School in Athens, with roots from the island of Andros, won the first prize in the poetry competition in the category A Fight for Freedom, for ages 11-14. The poem highlighted how the conflict had a profound impact on Commonwealth nations both during and after the war.
According to its website, NSI received 4,003 entries from 44 different countries, territories and dependencies with 2,122 pieces of art work and 358 speeches submitted. There were also 609 singer/songwriters and 914 poets who participated.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed congratulations to the winners in a letter included in the online booklet of winners for 2019-20. A congratulatory message was also delivered by the NSI’s President, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and Lady Lucy French, NSI Founder and CEO.
Despotidis shared his gratitude after his win, “A special thank you to my teacher Mrs. Elina Tsalicoglou for all the support and encouragement she has provided and to my mother Margarita Vartholomeou for her relentless efforts and dedication that always serve as an inexhaustible source of inspiration, paving my path of life.”
Other young people from Greece were also honored in the competition with Mary Bournazou winning first place in poetry for ages 9-11 in Bonus Strand 75, Rafael Parlapanis winning first place in speech for ages 9-11 in the same Bonus Strand, and Vladislav Krasilnikov winning second place in the song category for ages 16-18.
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