Welwyn Garden City ten-year-old’s prize-winning vision

Prize-winning author Nicole Dodge, middle, with her mum Elena Dodge (left) and Explore Learning assi

Prize-winning author Nicole Dodge, middle, with her mum Elena Dodge (left) and Explore Learning assistant director Victoria Wright. - Credit: Archant

A keen and talented Welwyn Garden City writer has won a regional short story prize by gazing 1,000 years into the future at the age of just 10.

Nicole Dodge fought off tough competition to take the regional prize in a competition organised by Explore Learning, a tuition business with a base in Church Road, Welwyn Garden City.

Nicole rose to the challenge of a 500-word story based in the year 3017, impressing the judge, adventurer and television wildlife presenter Steve Backshall.

She told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I thought about the problems we seem to be facing in the world today and just began to write.

“I like the way ideas come from me as I write. The words and ideas join and connect to each other, to make a picture with words.

“I really want to be an author like JK Rowling, recognised for writing successful stories for children and young adults.”

Her other favourite authors are Michael Morpugo, Jacqueline Wilson, and Megan Rix.

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Nicole added: “I read so many books, sometimes more than one at a time. I love to read and I like to keep up with current affairs. I am an avid reader of Primary Times.”

Nicole, who attends St Joseph in the Park School in Hertingfordbury, has won some top quality stationary, and hopes to be announced as national winner on June 19.

Carey Ann Dodah, of Explore Learning, said: “This year’s National Young Writers’ Awards attracted so many entries, so Nicole should be very proud of her success.

“We were blown away with the amazingly creative, thoughtful and inventive stories.

“We’re thrilled to see so many children demonstrate their interest in such important matters. Trees were mentioned more than phones and political leaders featured in many stories too.

“Interestingly, Donald Trump was mentioned six times more than Theresa May.

“It’s so positive to see not only great writing ability, but also that children are engaging with key environmental issues and politics.”

Steve Backshall, whose wildlife television programmes include the BBC’s Deadly 60, said: “The quality of the stories was beyond belief.”


The capsule had been still and in a refrigeration cooler for 1,000 years. The technicians and robots began the waking-up procedure and the mood lights and oxygen had been switched on.

Emerald-green blues and pale purples soothed the body, which was in a prehistoric space suit,

TV cameras were filming worldwide, and slowly the body moved, raising one hand as if to say hello.

The doctors did not want any shock to the person and cleared the room to the minimum of people. The lid was being removed and the person’s face was now focusing on their new beginnings in 3017.

I greeted my new millennium with some trepidation; my space suit had now been removed and although I had been asleep for 1,000 years my body responded really well.

How can 1,000 years seem like five minutes?

I had volunteered for this experiment as we had been on the brink of World War Three and the world would have been partly destroyed by the superpowers.

I had been a top scientist and would hopefully bring my skills to the future.

So many questions and so many answers.

The top robot, who seemed in charge, welcomed me and said: “You would be surprised at the changes. ‘

“We now live in ‘Bubbles’ as the world was destroyed by nuclear bombs, the sea is contaminated and we have little vegetation.

“We grow our food from seeds made into tablets and we have little water to drink, but we have stayed strong and today there are no religions and political beliefs, only passion to survive and improve our existence.

“There are no animals left, only robotic dogs and cats.”

My heart sank, I had been expecting an amazing future and was saddened at what the human race had done to our world.

The bubbles were interlinked and you could see the blue sky enveloping around the bubbles with clouds so inviting that you wanted to break free.

Movement around the bubbles was by hover boards and I quickly managed to get used to them.

I had been assigned a robot dog to look after me. People were just as robotic as the robots and did not smile, there was a great sadness.

There were buildings and sleeping quarter inside the bubbles. Different bubbles had different skills and I was shown to the Scientist Development Bubble.

Although I had become an enigma I knew I wanted to make a change.

I wanted trees and grass to grow again, I wanted rivers flowing and birds and animals. What had we done to our beautiful world? I had always imagined the future to be great and magnificent.

I sat down and began working on a time traveller machine. I needed to return to 2017 to warn the superpowers that life in the future without nature, peace and love would be catastrophic and we had a chance to make a difference to our future....