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BHA congratulates winners of first annual James Hemming essay competition

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has congratulated the winners of the first annual James Hemming essay competition, which is sponsored by the BHA, New Humanist magazine and the South Place Ethical Society. The top three essayists, all of whom are school-goers, attended today's award ceremony at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, where they and their schools received a number of prizes. Prizes of cash were provided by the South Place Ethical Society and of books and magazines for the winners and their schools by the BHA and New Humanist.

Alex Mace of Ripley St Thomas CE High School beat over 70 other entrants, all of whom wrote an essay discussing the famous quotation from James Hemming's book Individual Morality: "'In life, the meaning comes in living.' Discuss."

In addition to employing references from the works of Hemming deftly throughout his essay, Alex drew from a number of sources, from philosophers to entertainers, to argue his position that, "A meaningful life is one that has significance: one that has point, substance, purpose, quality, value, and direction. The meaning of life is that which gives human life this significance."

Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education, "Students from all different backgrounds and from a mixture of independent and state-maintained schools entered this new competition, and we were greatly impressed with the high standard of entries we received across the board. In particular, we were delighted to see the creative and diverse ways in which the students chose to pursue the topic - it is certainly no small feat to attempt to discuss the meaning of life in just 1500 words."

Mr Copson continued, "What was clear from so many of the essays, not least the winning entries, was the ability of these young people to think critically about life's ultimate questions."

"The British Humanist Association is committed to public education about Humanism, about an approach to life that is based on reason and our common humanity. Together with our kindred humanist organisations, we see this new competition as not only testament to the great contribution that James Hemming made to education throughout his life, but as part of our role to encourage free and critical thinking by all people in society."

Second place in the competition was awarded to Sam Dennis of Cockermouth School and third place to Joshua Brown of University College School.

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