Out of this world result for student

An Ashville College student is over the moon after his short story inspired by the first probe to land on a comet has been shortlisted in a national writing competition.

Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 1:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 4:09 pm

Thomas Grattoni-May was one of more than 123,000 youngsters to enter this year’s BBC 500 words competition, and now his tale, Sleep Well Philae, will be read and debated by a panel of literary experts led by guest judge, Her Royal Highness Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

The final is being broadcast live from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Friday, May 27, and those scrutinizing the works of the 50 young finalists include Radio 2’s host Chris Evans as well as leading authors Charlie Higson, Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Francesca Simon.

The winners of the two age categories – five-nine and ten-13 - will then have their story read live on BBC Radio 2 by a leading British actor.

Thomas took inspiration for his story from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which launched in March 2004, just before he was born.

Ten years later, in November 2014, the little probe achieved the first-ever landing on a comet.

Three days later, the probe went silent only to periodically reawaken, sending back valuable data until finally going into hibernation in July 2015, after its batteries ran down due to it landing in a location which had no sunlight.

Ashville College Head of Year 7, Jane Ellis, said: “Thomas is fascinated by the solar system and space exploration, and the choice of subject for his 500 word story comes as no surprise.

“Being named as one of 50 finalists shortlisted from more than 123,000 entrants is a tremendous achievement. And, staying with the space theme, Thomas can justifiably call himself a star pupil.

“We are wishing him all the luck in the world for the finals, and I know his classmates will be tuning into BBC Radio 2 on the day to listen to the live judging.”