Meet ‘Identity’ competition winner Riley Bo Russell

Thursday 25th June 2015

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Today, Youth in Excellence director Kay Oldroyd and Project Manager Medina Harrison went to Queens Park Community School in the borough of Brent to meet the identity competition winner Riley Bo Russell who is in year 7.

Riley Bo Russell, competition winner
Riley Bo Russell, competition winner

Her poem ‘My Story’ received wonderful praise from the judge Mrs Patricia Oliver (BA English, Literature & Lingustics; DipEd)

“The winning poem ‘My Story’ written by Riley Bo Russell is written in a contemporary style and explores the theme of identity with an understanding of what identity means to the writer and shares these ideas in a somewhat simplistic form which makes the poem easy to read and allows the reader to share the poet’s feelings. 

With the use of rhyme and repetition, the poem has a catchy rhythm and along with the more or less equal length verses, allows the theme of identity to be developed.

The reader is encouraged to want to know more about this identity and makes comfortable reading.  This is a beautifully written poem and deserves the first prize.”


Riley was joined by her extended English group teacher Sue Wales, who has been teaching since 1962 and although now retired comes back to the school once a week to work with the gifted and talented students.

Riley Bo Russell and Sue Wales


Riley was informed about the identity poetry competition in the autumn term of 2014 when she was fairly new at the school. The extended English group were given the task for homework and she worked on her composition for about an hour each day when she got home from school.


“When we were given the topic of identity I really had no idea what I would write about” said Riley remembering back to last year “The examples that we were given in class didn’t really have an effect on me because I don’t see myself as unique or having a special story to tell; I just felt kind of ‘normal’ and saw myself as the same as everyone else. I don’t even think that I’m in a position to tell what my identity is yet – I haven’t worked it out!

Although just 11 years old and coming to the end of year 7, Riley speaks with a maturity and understanding beyond her years and this was evident when she spoke about the possible challenges of getting to know different kinds of people.

“My school is very multi-cultural and multi-faith and I love that. Here, we don’t focus on how we are all different. We just accept one another and see more how we are similar.”

Riley Bo Russell and YiE director Kay Oldroyd
Riley Bo Russell and YiE director Kay Oldroyd


Riley not only excels in English but she also loves performing and creative arts as well as sports.

She is focused on working as hard as she can to get really good grades. “It’s too early to know what I want to do as a career, but I want to be able to pick the GCSE subjects that will definitely help me in the future.”



When asked what her family said when she told them that she had won the competition, Riley laughed “They were proud, but not really surprised. I don’t want that to sound big-headed though!”

No, it just sounds like they have great expectations of you Riley, as you have already shown just how much talent you have!

Read ‘My Story’ and the other brilliant poems by ordering your copy of ‘Identity – The Anthology’ AS-Buy-the-Book-Button

Kay Oldroyd, Riley Bo Russell, Medina Harrison and Sue Wales
Kay Oldroyd, Riley Bo Russell, Sue Wales and Medina Harrison YiE Project Manager








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‘My Story’ by Riley Bo Russell, year 7 Queens Park Community School, Brent.

I’m a girl aged eleven,

Here I am, in year seven.

I am a story, waiting to be told.

Just watch my identity unfold


I am a song, yet to be sung.

I am a race, still to be run.

I am a voice, yet to be heard.

I am a passion, still to be stirred.


I will express my views though the arts,

Creating rhythms and thriving hearts.

Culture surrounds me,

Music defines me.


I am a flag not yet unfurled.

I am a girl still to wonder the world.

I don’t know what I’ll become,

For the future has not yet begun. 


I am a story,

Waiting to be told.

Who knows how life will unfold.

I am in year seven,

Just a girl of eleven.