Taking Flight writing competition: read the winning stories

Back in May we held ‘Taking Flight: A Month Of Stories at GOSH’, the hospital’s first ever flash fiction writing competition, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, gifting the rights in his famous book and play to the hospital.

We invited patients and staff across the Trust to use 500 words or less to create a story that best interpreted the title ‘Taking Flight’ and received lots of creative and inventive responses! 

Well done to all our winning and highly commended patients and staff, who have had their stories published in our hospital magazine Roundabout, as well as receiving some special commemorative Peter Pan coins. 

Here are their wonderful stories: 

Winner, Patient Category (ages 8-12)

Aasiya (Aisha) Bakhrani, pictured above

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Aisha Bakhrani who was eleven years old. She loved looking out the window. When she gazed at the bright blue sky and the flying birds, she could imagine she was flying too. She loved looking and studying the birds. Her favorite bird was the red cardinal because her favorite color was red. 

One day there was a bird watching competition. On that particular day, she saw thirteen different birds but she couldn't see the red cardinal. She went home disappointed and sad. Reaching home, her mom asked, "What's wrong? Didn't you see a lot of birds?"

Aisha replied sadly, "I saw a lot. Look at all the pictures I took. But I didn't see my favorite, the red cardinal. I see it every day when I look out the window, but I didn't spot it today. The competition is almost finished,"

Her mom smiled at her and laughingly said, "Look out the window, silly."

Aisha looked out the window and saw not just one but two red cardinals building a nest in the maple tree. She smiled and took a picture.


Winner, Staff Category

Sian Spencer-Little (left) Research Health Play Specialist

“I wonder what would happen if it did” said Mum.

Eric and Billy were sitting in the garden, wondering about many things such as. What would happen if the grass all of a sudden turned to slime, would they slip and slide all the way down the garden or would they get stuck to each other on the way down?

Wondering was the most favourite thing ever, thought Billy, because you can do anything and go anywhere, you have the most power.

“Mum if it did, would it need batteries or would it re-charge itself like an electric car?

“Good question Billy, let’s ask Captain E what he thinks”

Mum always called Eric that- as for me I’m Lieutenant B.
“Well, I think” said Eric taking a long slow breath “That ice cream would definitely help me answer that very difficult question”

Everyone got caught up in the biggest wave of laughter, the kind of laughter that makes your tummy sore, followed by big bowls of ice cream and sprinkles.

Captain Eric stood up “So now we need to think about our next mission, Lieutenant B please bring the prototype to me for inspection “

“Hmm” said mum rubbing her hands together “we shall need glue, cello-tape, some sliver foil, and some tunes”

Captain E ran around a little like when a baby giraffe is first born, his legs wobbly and not always going in the right direction.

He headed towards the kitchen.

Together the building project had begun, as well as the singing!
This was not the best!

As the weather changed and some grey clouds that looked like a bottle of black paint had spilt over a big bag of cotton wool appeared, Mum declared: “Team we need to transport this into the kitchen, for the final inspection “

Carefully it was carried, in silence into the kitchen.
Captain E said “phew, I don’t think I took a breath then” and collapsed on the floor, like a starfish stuck on a rock in the sea.
They all looked up.
They couldn’t quite believe it.

“WOW” they all said “a flying bus stop”

There it was shining tall, with a sliver cape blowing in the breeze, a secret TV inside the bit that tells you the bus numbers.

"Just imagine where it could take us” said Mum
“Who we would meet”?
“The things we would see”

“Well” said Mum as she stepped back and smiled “What do you think, should we program it to take us on our first flight, or should we wait”?

She turned round.
“Major Mum, Captain E and Lieutenant Ball ready for mission bus stop”

“Right then we need snacks, socks, some bananas, and the most important thing”




The End


Read more highly commended patient and staff stories by selecting the rows below: 

Highly commended, Patient Category (ages 8-12)

In 1901 there was a little boy called john who had a rare blood condition he wished he could do everything everyone else could do but he couldn't run or walk even talking was hard for him to do until one night john was visited by an angel that said god will make you walk and do everything you want as long as he lived without his family john accepted he loved it he went to the baker got some bread and went to the park but he missed his family so he called back the angel and said he wanted to go home then the angel said because you are so loyal to our family you can go home and still walk and still talk then he woke up and he could walk and he was home with his family the end

Jim Cassidy

Highly commended, Staff category

I’m sitting looking over the pilot’s shoulder, runway lights glow and flicker in the heat waves in front of us. The co-pilot is checking the controls whilst the control tower tells us there might be a window for take-off in the next few minutes.

It’s a busy time of year, lots of people going on summer holidays, in those big jumbo jets that are landing all around us with unnerving skids, and engines like space shuttles. We are sitting by the main runway in a small private jet, hired out for the night, to take off as quickly as possible on an unscheduled flight to France.

There are five of us on the plane, my fellow passengers Nick and Paulo are talking through what to expect. They pour over notes, scans and ECG readings, and once again piece these together in forensic detail, re-familiarising themselves with the heart that has been offered in the most generous act of kindness, to save the life of a desperately poorly child at GOSH.

The seat belt signs are already on, we belted up as soon as we got on the plane with the four large boxes of equipment we brought with us. We had been warned that if there was a slot we wouldn’t get much notice and we might just have to sit and wait for the go ahead. The pilots, reassuringly say they have done this before, and seem to enjoy the prestige that staff on the ground, and up in the air, know ‘we’ are an ‘anonymous’ priority.

The plane, which was all that was available to hire at short notice, has leather seats, walnut panelling and crystal decanters, which, at any other time would add to the excitement of this 'James Bond experience', but tonight, all this luxury seems irrelevant, unnecessary and farcical. 

“Right, off we go” the pilot says. This is it. Instead of the usual port hole window, I look out of the windscreen of the plane, not a view I am used to, but one I’m grateful for, because looking at the radar isn’t that reassuring. A huge plane lands, we speed out of our parking spot, and I feel like we are taking off vertically. I look down, this time though the port hole, as we bank over Heathrow, and see a plane land on the runway where we took off.

It’s quiet and dark now, the lights on the wings flash but it’s not that flash of urgency you get with an ambulance. It feels like we are in the eye of a hurricane, five people in that void, three of us making small talk to pass the time and support each other through the mixture of emotions, we feel for both of the families. This moment will pass, and life will never be the same for them.

Eleanor Richardson

Highly commended, Staff category

First went the book. It was here, on the table, and suddenly it wasn’t. Then came the cat. Poor Betty, I have to say it was really funny the way she was screaming and crying and clawing at the air while twirling above my head. I was still laughing when my wheelchair took off. Odd enough, I found myself gently levitating at half height. All the furniture and Aunt Jenny and my brother Josh and the house itself, we were all flying.

His mouth wide open, Josh was crying and trying to air-swim his way to Aunt Jenny’s hands. Sweet aunty, she was really struggling to help and keep us as calm as possible. I said: ‘Don’t worry about me aunty. I do enjoy it. Look after Josh, poor thing, he’s so scared’.

Look at the cars! They were right there, just outside our window. Don’t put on such a so-what-face, it was weird indeed. I mean, we live at the fourth floor. 

When we landed, I was the only sad person in the room Aunt Jenny was gratefully mumbling ‘it’s over thanks God it’s over’.
Josh’s eyes were still tearing, but he looked definitely relieved. Myself… well… don’t ask me why but I was walking. For the first time in my life, I was walking!

And everything was upside down. The white was black, the right was left, I could walk and Josh… oh dear… my beloved little brother Josh couldn’t walk anymore. It was all so unfair.  
Aunt Jenny was laughing. All of a sudden, she was blond and beautiful and tall and young. But then, as soon as she saw Josh, all that happiness on her face disappeared. Then It was when I realized how much she loved him, that she would give away her youth for him.

I don’t want to lie. I did enjoy running up and down as I loved feeling my legs and the sound of my thumping feet against the floor. I enjoyed, but still I couldn’t help but think about Josh. And you know what? When the wind came back and we started flying again, I knew we were heading home.

Believe me, I’ve never been so happy and Aunt Jenny also, she was ecstatic at watching Josh running and tumbling again and laughing and… dear aunty… then she saw me, and her face turned sad again. Don’t be. I will get better one day and if not, I will be happy anyway. All I want is having smiling face around me and Josh jumping like a frog and Aunt Jenny who… she’s such a funny lady… she was staring at herself in the mirror and she said: ‘Well, now I recognize myself. Who needs blond hair when I can have these wonderful grey ones?’

Alberto Montalbano