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Meet the winner of The Big Issue Kids Christmas Cover Competition 2021!

Meet our cover artist Gabriela Beard, age seven.

A massive congratulations to seven-year-old Gabriela Beard from Worcester – the winner of The Big Issue’s Kids Christmas Cover Competition 2021, in association with WHSmith.

Gabriela took our theme of ‘Christmas Wish’ and was inspired to show how Santa can help fix the housing crisis.

As you can see, this year Father Christmas is delivering houses to homeless people, thanks to what Gabriela calls his incredible ‘Shrink Vay’ gadget that makes them small enough to fit perfectly into his sack for easy transportation.

Gabriela told us she felt “very happy” to have her drawing on the cover of one of our biggest selling magazines of the year.

She said she came up with the idea of Father Christmas delivering houses at Christmas all by herself, and told us modestly that she enjoys art and “likes to scribble”. And Gabriela, who couldn’t wait to go in to school to tell her teacher Mrs Jones about her success, added that she’d like to wish all our vendors Merry Christmas! 

She and her sister Isabella, 10, both entered the competition, and mum Ana has been proudly displaying their entries in the front window of their home. Ana said: “It’s fantastic, I’m really thrilled, and she had a big smile when telling Daddy about the competition! I think the whole school (Broadheath CE Primary School and Pre-School) will be very proud of her as we are a small school in the Worcester countryside.”

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Ana worked at M&S in Worcester before the pandemic and, along with both her daughters, would buy The Big Issue from our vendor who used to sell at a pitch outside the shop, so the girls were aware of issues of homelessness. “This lady worked very hard and for me it felt impossible not to share a few treats with her sometimes,” Ana added.

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Big Issue editor Paul McNamee said: “Every year the cover competition is something that everybody at The Big Issue looks forward to. The ideas and the joy bouncing off the pages lifts us all.

 “This year, the theme of Christmas Wish brought brilliant ideas. It’s always the trickiest of decisions to pick just one winner from the hundreds and hundreds, but Gabriela’s Santa delivering homes to those in need was so direct, glorious and simple, it had to be her.

“In a time when things look dark and it’s not clear how we navigate out, these young artists provide a beacon. Thanks to them, their parents, grandparents, guardians, teachers and the whole network around them. Merry Christmas.”

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What the judges had to say

It was a near impossible task to pick a winner from the hundreds of entries we received from across the country. That’s why we enlisted acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre and journalist and author Nick Sheridan. Here’s what they had to say about our winners and runners up.

Sarah McIntyre: “Thanks so much to everyone who sent in your pictures, I really enjoyed looking at them! Children addressed important issues such as climate change, cleaner seas, racial representation and recycling, all with their own unique takes on them.

“I love Gabriela’s picture and her Santa ‘delivering houses to the homeless’ – I very much wish for that, too! He looks so jolly while he’s doing it, in his big fancy sled, with comet-like streaks whizzing by. I love the texture of the paint, and I hope it inspires other young (and older!) artists to get stuck in with their own painting and drawing. And, of course, I hope it inspires people to buy a copy of The Big Issue this Christmas, and support its valuable sellers!”

Nick Sheridan: “I’m really blown away by the talent that the young Big Issue readers have shown to us this year – and very especially, I’m delighted to see that so many of the covers tackled really difficult issues head-on: homelessness, climate change, racism and even cyber-bullying. It’s fantastic to see how engaged the younger generations are by really important subjects like these.

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“I LOVED Winnie’s cover – a simple and powerful message brought to life beautifully! Her picture of Santa reminds us all that Christmas is for everyone, no matter what they look like. Amalie’s picture took my breath away with its depiction of a gorgeous winter scene – she has used colour sparingly, and to magnificent effect – the swirling snow, the glow of the lamp and of course the beautiful red of the robins. This picture makes me think of hope, of a beacon in dark and stormy times, and of solidarity between friends (in this case, the wee robins). It’s an extremely accomplished work of art, I really do love it and the message it carries.

“Gabriela’s picture made me feel many emotions – as a lot of great art does. I felt the excitement of Christmas but as well as that, there is the powerful message that Gabriela wishes Santa could deliver homes to the people who don’t have any of their own.”

Runners up

Jess Richey, 6, Cambridge

Winnie Allen-Ford, 9, Newark

AmeliaWhittam, 8, Brookfield Community Primary School, Preston

Amalie Moore, 11, ESMS Schools, Edinburgh

Chelsea Turner, 6, Worthing

We’d also like to give a shout out to the teachers and youth group leaders who took the time to send dozens of amazing entries. Special mentions to Alleyn’s Junior School, Beath High School, ESMS Schools, Brookfield Community Primary School. Our group winner is Whybridge Junior School. Congratulations!

Thanks to WHSmith, our winner and shortlisted artists will be receiving special prizes!

Sean Toal, Managing Director for WHSmith High Street, said: “As part of our sustainability strategy, WHSmith is committed to making a positive difference as we continue on our journey to a better business, and we are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Big Issue on this year’s Christmas kids cover competition. 

“Huge congratulations go to Gabriela Beard for the brilliant winning cover, and to the runners up for their fantastic designs; we’ll be sending some very special prizes of WHSmith goodies to both Gabriela and the runners up. And a big thank you and well done to all who entered!”

Again, we’d like to thank all the kids and grown-ups who got involved in this year’s competition. In this week’s magazine we’ve squeezed as many covers as we can onto our pages so please buy a copy from your local vendor to have a look!

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