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The Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge – held at Thomas’s London Day School, Kensington and sponsored by Waterstones

In my role as a journalist I come across some gems. One such gem was to attend the first ever ‘Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge’, aka Junior (well very) ‘University Challenge’. With the lighting set to dim in the auditorium, four sets of three children sat at desks, with flourescent red buzzers to frantically press, a screen behind which flashed up with the name of their school every time they answered a question correctly, accompanied by rousing music.

So the scene was set. Bright eyed, excited but composed children from Fox, Colville, St Mary Abbots and St Thomas’ prepared for their first experience of a public competition. Questions were set to Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic and Anne Holm’s I am David. For the General Knowledge section questions were set to books of the Victorian era – quite a challenge when you are only ten or eleven! Audience participation was expected too and correct answers were enthusiastically rewarded with a sweet thrown to the appropriate child (or sometimes an eager adult).

The compere, judge and adjudicator (staff from Thomas’s London Day School, Kensington) were suitably dressed for the occasion in tuxedo and were so professional and at ease in their roles that I assumed an outside company had been bought in for the purpose. Mr Corey (the Latin teacher) with just as serious approach to the task as Jeremy Paxman (albeit with a twinkle in his eye) was barely allowed to draw breath in his question before a child would interrupt with a beam (and usually accompanied by a reflex hand shot in the air) with the correct answer – followed by high 5’s all round from the children.

The prize, a large cup was won by Fox Primary School after a nail biting tie with St Mary Abbots. Michael Korel, Events Manager at Waterstones Kensington, accompanied by Laura Malkin of the Thomas’s Schools Foundation (TSF) presented the prizes which included vouchers to spend at Waterstones for the school library.  It was an hour of pure fun, and credit must go to Lida Cepuch of TSF for masterminding (excuse the pun) the event, the Headmistress for encouraging it, and the staff and children who so gamely took part.

Afterwards, one little girl in the audience, declared to her mother when she was older (in three years time) she wanted to take part in the Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge. Tremendous!

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Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott The Kensington Magazine