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2 January 2024

Best Australian Yarn: Inaugural winner of ESL prize celebrated

A powerful story about a young couple who must flee their war-torn country with their infant son has won the inaugural Navitas English as a Second Language Prize in The Best Australian Yarn short story competition.

The story Hero was written by NSW resident Harold Legaspi, a migrant from the Philippines whose first language is Tagalog.

He was named the ESL Prize winner from more than 370 entrants at a packed awards ceremony in Perth on Friday night.

Mr Legaspi migrated to Australia as an eight-year-old in 1989. His parents arrived on a skilled migration visa, settling in St Clair and joining other family members who had migrated earlier in search of a better life.

Mr Legaspi works in various jobs, including teaching English to primary school students. He has always written stories, and Hero was based on an event described to him by a friend who, as a refugee, fled the Middle East.

“My friend told me a story, not necessarily hers, but a story about fleeing persecution in her homeland,” he said.

“I listened, imagined, and wrote about it – hence, Hero.”

He said he was thrilled to be announced as the winner.

Navitas joined The Best Australian Yarn as a sponsor this year, allowing it to go from strength to strength in its second year.

The prize pool grew to $75,000 — the richest in the world for short stories — and two new categories were introduced, the Navitas ESL Prize and the First Nations Storytelling Prize. Miles Hitchcock and Basim Shamaon from Navitas served as judges for the Navitas ESL Prize.

The overall competition attracted a staggering 5500 entries.

Navitas CEO Scott Jones presents at the Best Navitas Yarn Awards Dinner.

Scott Jones, CEO, said the company shared a great passion for literacy and providing access to quality education.

“The premise of The Best Australian Yarn giving aspiring writers of all ages and backgrounds a platform to showcase their talents, tap into their creativity and share incredible stories with a wider audience that they otherwise may not have had the capacity to reach, really resonated with us as an organisation,” he said.

“Our involvement in the Navitas English as a Second Language Prize is a source of great pride and I look forward to this category being an integral part of The Best Australian Yarn for years to come.”

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