The touching tale that won the YEP’s Christmas story competition

Yorkshire Evening Post short story winner, Gabriel Owens, from Barwick-in-Elmet. '21st December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Yorkshire Evening Post short story winner, Gabriel Owens, from Barwick-in-Elmet. '21st December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A touching story about a girl who wished her soldier father would come home for Christmas is the winner of the YEP’s festive writing competition.

Thirteen-year-old Gabriel Owens, from Barwick-in-Elmet, wrote the emotional tale with a twist after we asked children to write a 250-word story based around the title “All Emily wanted for Christmas”.

Gabriel said that he wanted to demonstrate the life of a child who had a parent in the military and who often had to spend Christmas without them.

Gabriel said: “I thought it would be nice to write about something other than possessions. I wanted to write about something that affects a wide range of people.

“I’m really happy that I’ve won. I didn’t expect it at all.”

Gabriel’s mother Victoria said: “I’m incredibly proud of him, I thought his story was amazing and it brought a tear to my eye.

“We try to talk about the true meaning of Christmas and how it’s about being together with family, not about just material possessions.

“We’ve instilled those values into both our children.”

Gabriel said that he had always enjoyed writing and had future aspirations to become a full time writer.

He said: “When I was in Year 2, I used to write stories in literacy lessons and enjoyed it a lot.

“My teachers liked my stories, so I thought it would be nice to carry on and hopefully do this for a living.

“For anyone who wants to try something like this, just pick up a pen and start writing and see what comes out.

“You’ll never know how good you are until you try it. You shouldn’t feel nervous about expressing your own feelings and emotions through writing.”

Gabriel wins a £50 White Rose gift card, and his story is published in today’s paper.

Nikki Appleton, marketing manager at White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “We love Gabriel’s story, it perfectly captures the Christmas spirit and has a brilliant cliffhanger.

“We look forward to one day hosting a book signing for the budding young author.”

All Emily wanted for Christmas

By Gabriel Owens

Emily was not like other children.

She liked playing the same games that most 7-year-old girls do. From the outside, you couldn’t tell that she was different.

She watched TV and rode her scooter. She was only unique in one respect. When it came to writing her Christmas list.

She didn’t want the latest games console, a new pair of trainers or stationary set. No.

All Emily wanted for Christmas was her daddy:

Dear Santa,

I know you must be very busy this time of year. It is December after all.

But it’s okay, because I don’t want a lot for Christmas. You can save all the expensive presents for the other children.

My daddy is a soldier. I don’t know what he does exactly. I think he serves the Queen. I haven’t seen him in two years.

All I want, as usual, is for my daddy to come home this Christmas.

I know it must be hard because it hasn’t happened yet. I just want to give him a big hug. I’m counting on you Santa.

Good luck,


It was Christmas morning. A letter in a beautiful red envelope with a wax seal lay at the side of her bed. She picked it up. It read:

Dear Emily,

I got your letter. A little bird told me that your daddy loves and misses you very much. I think you’ll see him very soon.


Just then there was a knock on the door…