Schoolboy’s dream trip to Parliament on 18th birthday

Hugh McHale-Maughan with his certificate. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1303197AM1)
Hugh McHale-Maughan with his certificate. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1303197AM1)

A Ripon schoolboy went on a dream trip to Parliament on his 18th birthday after winning a top writing competition while completing his A-levels.

Hugh McHale-Maughan – head boy at Ripon Grammar School – was one of five young political writers who secured a Press Gallery writing competition award, organised by Parliament.

“It was an incredible opportunity to attend Prime Minister’s Questions and the event culminated with a presentation of certificates from John Bercow, and a chance to chat with him about his role as Speaker of the House of Commons,” Hugh told the Gazette.

“To meet someone so important was a brilliant opportunity, and he was incredibly charming and personable,” said Hugh, who studies Latin, history, maths and English literature in the grammar school’s upper sixth form.

Hugh travelled down to London on the night of his 18th birthday (March 12) – which he termed “a happy coincidence”– and visited Bloomberg news company while mum Maureen took a tour of Parliament.

Hugh – who said he has always been “fascinated by politics” – picked up the award after writing a 500-word article in November, strongly arguing for greater regulation of the internet.

Hugh said he was “thrilled” to hear he had scooped the annual award in February.

And in addition to meeting London journalists and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Hugh got the chance to chat to Ripon MP Julian Smith during his visit.

“I have met Mr Smith before,” said Hugh. “He has always been very generous with his time for me.”

Hugh added: “I’m hugely grateful to him to the extensive support he has provided me with, which is redolent of the strong work he does for all young people in the constituency.”

Mr Smith told the Gazette: “I congratulate Hugh on being one of the five winners of the parliamentary Press Gallery awards and was pleased to be able to welcome him to Parliament.

“I look forward to seeing his career prosper in the years ahead.”

And the future certainly looks bright for the talented teenager.

Hugh has secured a place to read politics, philosophy and economics at Brasenose College, University of Oxford and said he really loves writing.

l To read Hugh’s essay, visit: www.juliansmithmp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Parl-Press-Gallery-winner-13-03-13.pdf