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One of my favourite parts of doing my English Degree at UCS is that I get to develop my own creative writing - both on fascinating modules on the course and also in my own time. There is even an extra optional monthly creative writing group for English students at UCS which I love being a part of. All in all, being here has given me the confidence, knowledge and boost I needed to fulfil a long-held ambition.

Being at University and receiving such positive and helpful feedback has given me the courage to submit my writing to competitions. A few months ago, I submitted a poem to ‘My Shrewsbury’ magazine, a beautiful bi-monthly magazine, edited by Katy Rink, which is packed full of interviews and articles about all things local and is available completely free at various spots around the town. The magazine features local artists, businesses, events and has full length features on everything you could wish for about the vibrant town in which we live.

Each edition has a different writing challenge and the one I entered was to write an ‘Ode to Autumn’. This was a different style of writing for me, but the magazine always contains some useful tips about the genre that they are asking you to write in, so I thought I’d give it a go.

To my surprise, my poem won the competition! I was absolutely thrilled and excited to meet Katy, the Editor, and Jessica from Write Here, who sponsors the competition. They both presented me with my prize, which was a gorgeous journal from the shop and we enjoyed talking about university, writing and the magazine. I must have managed to articulate some meaningful sentences, despite my excitement, as Katy asked me to write an article about how I came to enrol on the English Degree at University Centre Shrewsbury. I was over the moon, and so pleased to see my writing again in the Christmas issue.

I also decided to enter the poetry competition for a second time. Sadly, I didn’t win this one but, as it has a Christmas theme, I wondered if you would cast a festive eye over my attempt.

Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas to all!


A Shrewsbury Night Before Christmas

By Hayley


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Town

Shrewsbury was sleeping, on pillows of down.

Stockings were hung, and carrots left out,

In the hope that Saint Nicholas would soon be about.


Lists had been written, by kids making their pitch

As to why they deserved a Nintendo switch.

An offering for Santa, was placed on a coaster

Dad said he’d do it right (he’s always a boaster).

Somehow, he insisted, without having to think

That Santa and he shared a favourite drink.


The house filled with snores, not a soul was awake,

When suddenly the door knocker started to shake.

Three hearty raps roused us all one by one

And we dived down the stairs, to see all of the fun.

We flung open the door, sure that the chimney was blocked

And that Santa had been the one who had knocked.


Imagine our faces and all our surprise

When not Santa, but Darwin greeted our eyes.

“I’m Charles, Pleased to meet you!” he said with a boom

As a monkey ran past him to our living room!

We checked we weren’t dreaming, by three massive pinches

As right past our ears flew old Charlie’s Finches!


We stood there for a second, shocked and wide-eyed

Until Dad took the lead and followed inside.

Charles was swigging the drink we’d left out for St Nick

And the Shrewsbury biscuits were gone, almost as quick!

Mum hissed in my ear, “Quick, before he’s caught us,

Go in the garden and hide the pet tortoise!”


“So how can we help you?” Dad said looking keen

As he tried discreetly to hide the nativity scene.

Charles just chomped on his biscuit and emptied his drink

As the monkey and finches kicked up quite a stink.

I stepped forward, politely and offered him chocs

“Mr Darwin, our natural selection box!”


Then as quick as he’d entered, he turned tail and went,

With a wave and a wink for the time that we’d spent.

His creatures behind him, he shot through the door

And our house became peaceful and silent once more.

As we climbed up the stairs, to our warm cosy beds

I swear I heard sleigh bells, right over our heads…


If you’ve been inspired by Hayley’s creativity and confidence, why not take a look at our English course in more detail? You can learn more about our English course and University life in Shrewsbury at our upcoming Visit Days.

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