Ellen Wins Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards Story Competition

Music student Ellen Grieve added another string to her bow as she wins short story competition to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories.

see full size image

Image: Callum Mackay, Highland News and Media

To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories, Highlands and Islands Tourism (HITA) teamed up with UHI to involve students past and present in Scotland’s Year of Stories.

Ellen's story "The Search (Grandad O’ Saviskail)" was selected as the winning piece this month and she attended the awards ceremony in Inverness last week to recite her work.  

She was also awarded a £200 Amazon voucher and her work will be published in Highland Media publications.

Ellen, an accomplished musician, studied BA Applied Music with UHI Outer Hebrides and now studies on our MA Music and the Environment. She was also a frequent contributor to our Lock Down Ceilidh’s during the pandemic.

She said:  “I am delighted to have received this award. The poem explores my Grandad and what a special man he was. He lived and worked on his farm, always got his work done but was never hurried. He always had time to stop and share his words of wisdom whilst filling and tapping his pipe with a smile. His love of animals, people and the environment was pure and inspirational.

The visit to the HITA awards was a great prize, as well as paying tribute to Grandad, I met so many wonderful inspirational people from all over the Highlands and Highlands and I would like to thank everybody involved in making it a great experience."

Image: Callum Mackay, Highland News and Media

You can read Ellen’s poem below.

The Search (Grandad O’ Saviskail) by Ellen Grieve

A raven came to sit On a dyke that Grandad built.
“Kind sir, I thank you for my perch,
I am so tired and hungry as onwards I search”.
Old Hugh he bent down slowly, and gently turned a stone.
Scuttling gablos, the raven ate, until they were all gone.
His black, bead like eyes shone as he looked,
His watching, tilted head, then he shook.

The gentle old man sat down alongside.
Of all God’s creatures he was always blide.
“Eat your fill my friend, all I have is yours.
I am only the short-lived guardian of these windswept moors.
Seeds I sow, one for me, one for you,
I know that my feathered friends are aye hungry too.
You help me out as you look and dig.
Eating the grubs, helping my crops grow big”.

“I built this dyke to keep my animals safe.
A shelter from storms that they have to brave.
Moss and lichen grow on the stones,
This, tiny creatures eat and make their homes.
There are gaps in the stone that make it strong,
Wind and rain pass through, a solid wall would not stand long.
Small birds’ nest in these holes and raise their young.
Warming my heart with their thankful song”

The raven sat and looked long and still
at the tall, weathered giant up on that hill.
His coat tattered, tied round with string,
He had riches more than any king.
Cracked leather boots that had walked many a mile,
A pilgrim of life, with a heart-warming smile.
A cap, his crown, sat regally upon his head,
Wisdom shone forth from every word he said.

And, as they sat, a feeble cow came by a look,
It was many years since she had had a calf to sook.
“Ah, Powie my dear auld lass, whit like today”?
She nuzzled the great hand, that yielded a nut, then, ambled
along her way.
“My first coo, I had her when I was a younger man,
My trusted friend, I owe her more than any soul can.
She will have a home here with me, for the rest of our days,
Loved, well-fed and respected, come what may.”

“Kind Sir”, said the raven, “I surely do feel,
That my long search has ended, with this glorious meal.
I was sent forth, many years ago, on a hopeless quest,
To find a humble man, to honour as the best.
Knights and Kings, Judges and Scholars,
None are richer and none are taller,
than you, my friend, who lives out here,
with no ill thoughts, greed, or fear”.

“True Contentment is to live a life of sharing.
Thinking of others, loving and caring.
Harming no one, whether friend nor foe.
Reaping the harvest of compassion that you sow.
I, can return now, to my far-off home,
and leave you, in peace, on this earth to roam.
Until the day, when I will come back once more,
Then, my dear friend, ……. with you…. to the heavens I will soar”.