A BUDDING writer studying at Oxford High School was among the three winners of the UK's biggest young poets competition with a piece penned on the Cornish coast.

Sophia West, 18, was named runner-up in the 16th Christopher Tower Poetry competition for her work, The Awakening.

The wordsmith from West Oxford received a £500 prize at a ceremony in Christ Church on Wednesday after being judged alongside 1,100 other entrants.

Ms West, who is studying a creative writing AS Level at the school in Belbroughton Road, said: "It felt amazing when they read my name, it was a great feeling.

"The nice thing about it was meeting other people who are passionate about poetry – before we heard who won we all read out our poems.

"Hearing hearing someone's work gives you an insight into another person. Some of them were really surprising, all of them were brilliant."

The competition is considered by many one of the most prestigious young poets' events in the UK with a reputation for discovering fresh talent.

Oxford High School is the third local school to have a student in the top three winners, preceded by Oxford Spires Academy in 2013 and Magdalen College School in 2014.

Ms West said: "My teacher encouraged me to submit my poem because she knew about it. We get a lot of encouragement not only to write but submit our work.

"I've been writing for a while but started writing poetry when I went to a residential course with school. I realised I enjoyed the form and crafting your words."

The Awakening was inspired by a book of the same title by author Kate Chopin on women's issues and prevailing attitudes in the 19th Century.

Ms West's piece was written during a stay in Cornwall. She said: "I was inspired by the water, the landscape and the coastline. It's about meeting a woman and the impossibility of describing a person, and capturing them in words."

She plans to spend her winnings on summer travels with friends ahead of studying Russian and Persian at Cambridge University.

Other winners this year were Ashani Lewis from Surrey, who won the £3,000 first prize, and Safah Ahmed from London, who won the £1,000 second prize.

A total of 109 entrants born between 1997 and 2000 were on the longlist, including Jessica Jing Ga Chan of Headington School, who has now been longlisted twice.

Judge Alan Gillis, an Irish poet and lecturer at Edinburgh University, said: "Reading through all the poems, I was struck first of all by the great range and diversity of work in terms of voice, style and subject matter. But overwhelmingly, I was impressed by the consistency of excellence.

"The experience of judging has been really uplifting because of the passion and daring, boldness and confidence of the poems entered. This is a wonderful competition."