Dara McAnulty, a 16-year-old from Down, has become the youngest ever winner of a major literary prize, as his book ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ scooped the Wainwright Prize.
he Wainwright Prize is awarded for nature and global conservation writing and McAnulty has earned a reputation as one of the leading young conservationists in Britain and Ireland.
He has previously been awarded BBC Springwatch ‘Unsprung Hero’ award as well as the ‘Animal Hero of the Year’ award in 2018 by the Daily Mirror, when just 14 years old. He is also the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB medal for conservation.
In a speech posted online, Dara said he was, “stunned, honoured and deeply humbled.”
“This is an astounding moment. Not just for me, but for young people and young writers. This tells our community that our voices matter. That our ideas are worthy and our stories captivating.”
Dara said he would use the prize money to enhance people’s lives, to help his eco group and to make young writers’ lives easier.
Speaking with Wainwright Prize Judging Chair, Julia Bradbury, Dara said the award meant “that bit more to him as it shows youth voices can be heard.”
“It feels crazy. I think the most important thing is that, for me, this feels like a youth voice. Maybe, just maybe, some other young people might see this book and might think about taking up their own voice, because every single voice that we add to a discussion diversifies it and enriches it.
“When I wrote this book, I just wanted to share my view on the world and my experiences, and how that world has shaped me. I just want to hear everybody else’s voice now, all the young people out there,” Dara said.
Dara, who is autistic, said: “when young autistic people are nurtured and accepted; miraculous things can happen, and this is certainly one of them.”