Poet meets the Queen

Stephanie Gaunt SUS-150630-091120001

Stephanie Gaunt SUS-150630-091120001

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A Hastings woman has walked away with the W.I.’s National Poetry Prize.

Stephanie Gaunt, who lives at Hamilton Gardens in Clive Vale, received the Lady Denman Cup from the Queen after impressing judges with her poem on the theme of ‘What My W.I. Means To Me’.

The presentation took place at the Royal Albert Hall and was broadcast live.

Stephanie said: “No-one was more surprised than me to win this competition, but I am delighted to receive this cup, especially in the Centenary year.

I knew that I would have to go and collect the cup in front of 5000 women in the Albert Hall- daunting, but what I didn’t realise that as this year is the national centenary of the W.I, the Queen, Princess Anne and Sophie Duchess of Wessex were attending the AGM.

“When we moved to Hastings from Birmingham I joined the Hastings Writers’ Group. I had never written a poem in my life before, but found I quite enjoyed it. Later, I joined the a new Hastings ‘Stanza’ Group, which has done a great deal to increase my skills and confidence.

I am never going to be a great poet, but I enjoy myself - recently I read out some of my efforts at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, London - much scarier than meeting the Queen!”

Stephanie is currently President of the Hastings Ore Branch of the WI.

She said: “Primarily, as a member, and now the President, of the Hastings Ore W.I, I felt concerned that as I do not bake cakes, make jam or knit things, I should do something to contribute, and to raise the profile of our local group. Not that it needs much raising, we are the fastest-growing and now one of the largest W.I’s in East Sussex.”

Stephanie says that moving to Hastings has given her the time and inspiration to fulfil her lifelong ambition to write. “All I need now is to write a best-seller,” she said.

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