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Holly O'Connor has write stuff to win Anne Frank diary prize

By Joanne Sweeney

A teenage girl from Co Down has won a national prize in a competition to honour famous diarist Anne Frank.

Instead of a bound diary that the young Jewish girl used to write in during her years of hiding in Amsterdam from the Nazi occupiers, 15-year-old Holly O'Connor from Dromore uploaded her journal entry digitally.

Anne Frank was captured 71 years ago on August 4, 1944. She and her sister died nine months later in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Her father Otto survived the camps and ensured that his daughter's diary, saved by one of the family's helpers, was published in 1947.

Her book has been adapted for big screen and television and continues to inspire young people throughout the world.

The competition, known as Generation Diary, was organised by the Anne Frank Trust. It encouraged online diary entries from writers and bloggers aged 13-15, the same age that Anne was when she wrote her diary.

Her story left a major impression on Holly, who kept a journal since she visited Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam in 2010.

"I've always been fascinated with Anne's story and her writing ever since that visit. I'd visit the Anne Frank website often and kept up my interest, so when I noticed the competition was running, I just had to enter it," said Holly,

"I wrote the entry some time ago and it was based on a photograph that I took in Venice on a school trip of all the houses on top of the water. To me the falling down houses seemed to be like people and the water was like life."

She wrote in her entry called Beautiful Places And Beautiful People: "Sometimes we might feel lost, broken and torn apart, like those buildings that don't look all that new and modern.

"Your deepest fears surrounding you like the water, begging you to fall, wishing you to collapse into its depths."

Holly's writing was noted as "a beautifully written entry, full of hope, optimism and heart" by the judges, popular UK children's authors Cathy Cassidy and Justin Somper.

Holly won an exclusive writing master class with Cassidy and Somper next week at the headquarters of the Penguin publishing group in London.

She said: "I can't wait to go on the visit, which my mother is accompanying me on. It's amazing to think I will be shown around such a major publisher and to get a masterclass from writers who I read when I was younger."

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