INSPIRED by her son-in-law’s battles at war, budding poet Susan Bird penned an emotional piece about soldiers returning home.
And much to her delight, Susan’s poem The Price of Freedom – which focuses on soldiers re-adjusting to civilian life and the loss of life or limb – scooped first place in a national competition.
The 64-year-old, from Havant Road, Cosham, drew on her own experiences and those of her son-in-law, Cprl Paul Bovey, who served in Iraq and The Falklands, to write the poem.
It will now feature in a collection after winning first place in a national competition run by publisher United Press in aid of Help for Heroes.
Susan said: ‘I was very pleased when I found out I’d won, but a bit surprised too because I didn’t really know what the judges were looking for.
‘So I wrote a poem about what I’d seen my son-in-law and some of his friends go through.
‘Hearing their stories really made me realise how much these guys do for their country and that they really deserve our respect.
‘It’s not always easy for them to adjust when they get home – they need all the help and support we can give them and I wanted to bring that to people’s attention.’
Her work was selected out of hundreds of hopefuls who each had to include a donation for the soldiers’ charity with their entry, raising more than £3,000 in total.
Peter Quinn, the publisher’s managing director, said: ‘Susan’s poem was emotional, touching and told with such an open heart.
‘She managed to encapsulate the feeling of war and the way it touches the everyday lives of people at home, which is exactly what we hoped to find. And the fact she speaks from her own experiences makes it all the more heart-wrenching.’
Susan will also win a free copy of the collection when it is released, and £250 in shopping vouchers for Primark.
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM by Susan Bird
What does it cost? An arm and a leg?
Some would say more; some would say less
Of damage to limbs and more to minds by stress
Prepared for combat; rough terrain;
Overwhelmed by fatigue; stifling heat;
Repulsed by the carnage; not prepared to retreat
Absorbing the anguish; enduring the pain
Of comrades returning whilst their limbs remain
Fragments in the soil of a foreign terrain.
Those that return and unscathed seem
Adjusting to life back in mainstream
Each day nightmares suffer; most horrific dreams
What does it cost? For some ‘twas their all
Others; life with memories they wish not to recall
Our thanks – ‘tis not enough to those who serve
Our respect and support these Heroes deserve