TALENTED students from across the county impressed with their poetry prowess. And a Beaminster School student was among the group of young bards gathered at County Hall in Dorchester to compete for a place in the national poetry recitation competition, Poetry By Heart.

The poems of Keats, Lord Byron and Sylvia Plath were among those included in the recitations and each student performed two poems from The Poetry By Heart anthology.

The seven contestants, all aged between 14 and 18, had been selected from hundreds of students competing to take part in the regional championship.

Meg Best, from Beaminster School, joined the other competitors Ellen Lewis from Bournemouth School for Girls, Francesca Crisante from Highcliffe School, Evie Twyford from Shaftesbury School, Christian Howarth from St Aldhelm’s Academy and Andrew Phillips from St Edward’s School.

Hazel Mayall from Budmouth College in Weymouth impressed the judges enough to win first prize, and will now go on to represent Dorset in the finals in April staged at The National Portrait Gallery in London.

The regional final was hosted by Dorset Library Service and the judges included Paul Hyland, Dorset poet and writer, Sara Biggs ,young people’s representative with a passion for drama, Katherine Locke, writer for the Bridport Prize and Sharon Kirkpatrick, senior manager reading and learning for Dorset Library Service. Annie Freud, Dorset poet and performer, was the master of ceremonies.

Sharon said: “The students all performed to a very high standard and gave us a wonderful afternoon of poetry recitations.

“They were all worthy winners and the judges did not have an easy task selecting just one to go on to the finals in London.

“The aim of the competition is to promote understanding of poetry as an art form and encourage students to develop self-confidence and creative understanding, and we are delighted that so many young people took part in their local competitions.

“We were also honoured to have Annie Freud reading her poems to us on the day, and we also want to thank the judges for their input on the day.”