YOUNG refugees living in Oxfordshire won one of the county’s most prestigious awards for poetry.

The four talented poets from three countries – Timileyin Amusan, from Nigeria, Ftoun Abou Kerech, from Syria, Halema Malak and Merzia Qahramany, from Afghanistan, were awarded the Oxfordshire Youth Awards’ Arts Superstar Award for their collaborative work with Orchestra of St John’s.

They worked with OSJ’s composer in residence, Toby Young, and associate conductor, Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, to create live orchestral soundtracks to accompany their poetry.

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The Displaced Voices project builds upon Oxford Spires Academy’s nationally-recognised poetry programme, developed by author Kate Clanchy.

The four student-poets collaborated with the OSJ artists to create music that amplified the emotions they hoped to convey in their work.

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After developing their poems as part of a series of workshops, they performed live to full houses and enthusiastic audiences in Dorchester, near Wallingford, and King’s Place in London.

Jackie Watson, teacher at Oxford Spires Academy where the four 16-year-olds study, commented on their achievements: “The students have developed confidence and poise, and flourished under the spotlight and alongside an acclaimed orchestra.

“They have grown in so many ways as a result of this project.”

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One of the winners Mr Amusan has also gone on to become Oxford City Poet – a high-profile position first undertaken by Ms Clanchy back in 2011.

Sponsored by Blenheim Palace and organised by Oxfordshire Youth charity, the Youth Awards are a celebration of talented young people aged 8 to 21 from Oxfordshire.

The event shone a light on the outstanding contributions made by local youth – from small acts of kindness to large-scale campaigns.

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This year’s award ceremony was originally planned to take place in the New Theatre Oxford in May but due to Covid-19 restrictions it was livestreamed instead.

Teens also received awards in eight other categories including a new Covid-19 Hero one, which was given to Camron Hignell.

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The boy, who lives in Berinsfield, is a member of Youth Challenge Oxfordshire (YoCO) and volunteered alongside Berinsfield Information and Volunteers Centre (BIVC) to support elderly and vulnerable residents who were shielding throughout the first lockdown.

Another winner – this time in the Sports Personality category – Emma Gorringe was left with a disability following chemotherapy when she was younger.

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The teenager was awarded for her achievement in being the first registered disabled amateur boxer – a milestone achieved after eight years of persistent hard work.

In December she had her first skills bout for This Girl Can Box and made history.