The annual competition for 16- to 19-year-olds, established to foster interest in the First World War, concluded this year at The Western Front Association's Armistice Day commemoration on 11 November.  Run under the auspices of The WFA, and generously sponsored by the Hardy family, the competition is held in memory of Colin Hardy, who died in 2017.  

Colin had a long and distinguished career as a headteacher and was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. A stalwart member of the Cheltenham & Gloucester branch of The WFA, he completed an MA in British First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham. He also wrote the ground-breaking book, ‘The Reconographers: Intelligence and Reconnaissance in British Tank Operations on the Western Front 1916 to 1918’, which won the Richard Holmes Prize from the WFA and Helion Publishing in 2015.

The Chair of The Western Front Association Tony Bolton with prize winner Lizzie Kenyon-Muir and runners up Rose Hall and Arthur Beresford-Jones .

The competition accepts essays, project reports and video presentations from young students, and the standard of submissions this year was exceptional. In fact, it was so difficult to separate the top three that Val Hardy, Colin’s widow, and her daughter, Clare, decided to award a second runner-up prize to help break the judging deadlock. This prize, for £200, was awarded to 17-year-old Rose Halls, from Brighton College, for her essay, ‘Discuss the Psychological Effects of the Great War on Soldiers, and How Medical Professionals Attempted to Treat ‘Shell Shock’’. The first runner-up, with a prize of £500, was 17-year-old Arthur Beresford-Jones of the Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge, who assessed the question, ‘Did the First World War Cause More Tension or Create Greater Unity Between the Ethnic Components of the Empires Fighting on the Eastern Front’. Both Rose and Arthur were delighted with the timing of the awards as it enabled them to include them in the personal statements of their university applications. 

Lizzie Kenyon-Muir

The overall winner was 18-year-old Lizzie Kenyon-Muir of Hockerill Anglo-European College in Bishops’ Stortford. Lizzie’s essay, ‘To What Extent was the First World War the Main Reason for the Enfranchisement of Women in Britain?’ secured her the first prize of £1000, which will be of substantial help during her time at the University of York.

All three prize winners, along with their families, were guests on 11 November at The WFA Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph, where they laid a wreath, and then at the Guards Chapel. 

Tony Bolton, Chair of the WFA, presented the prize winners with their cheques at The WFA lunch at ‘Brown’s’ in Victoria. Colin Hardy dedicated his life to educating, mentoring, and developing young people, and his legacy will continue when the competition starts its next round in March 2024.