Art student from local secondary school wins regional heat of prestigious Royal Mail stamp competition

Tunbridge Grammar School for Boys (TWGSB) Year 10 pupil Raphael Valle Martin is one of 24 regional winners of the Royal Mail Heroes Stamp Design competition, which attracted more than 606,000 entries nationwide.

The competition, open to children aged 4 to 14, was launched earlier this year with the aim of asking school children to think about who their heroes are. They were then asked to design a stamp in their honor.

Children from over 7,500 UK schools took part in the competition and a shortlist of 120 pupils was then drawn up. Their images were judged by a panel including the Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Boris Johnson MP, the family of Captain Sir Tom Moore, Baroness Floella Benjamin and Simon Thompson, CEO of the Royal Mail. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It is a credit to the children of this country that in world record numbers they have picked up their brushes, pens and paints and paid artistic tribute to the heroes of our coronavirus response. Their brilliant efforts represent the nation’s collective gratitude to all who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Congratulations to everyone who qualified for the next round and thank you to everyone who participated.

The highest number of entries received for a stamp design competition was 239,374 for the Royal Mail Christmas stamp design competition in 2013, so the figure of over 600,000 for this year has largely surpassed that figure and helped the contest win a Guinness World Records accolade.

Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson said: ‘We were amazed and impressed by the sheer volume of entries, and to have won a Guinness World Records title in the process shows how much children across the UK appreciate those heroes who kept the nation moving during such a difficult time.

The 120 regional finalists were then whittled down to just 24 last month and Raphael’s design was one of them. His depicts an NHS cleaner at work while other entries celebrate carers, garbage collectors, teachers, supermarket workers, public transport staff, delivery drivers and postmen and postwomen.

By succeeding at this level, Raphael won a prize for himself and a £500 prize for the school. TWGSB Artistic Manager Ms Kublik commented, “As soon as we saw Rafi’s work, we had a feeling it would go far! We were so impressed not only by the beautiful quality of its skillful composition, but also by the thoughtfulness behind its design and its recognition of NHS cleaners and the work they do to keep a hospital running. We are extremely proud of him!

A TWGSB added: “Usually stamps are issued to honor the achievements of famous British people, including scientists, explorers, writers and artists, but since the start of the coronavirus pandemic many people have made great things. These are the people who have helped the country through a really difficult time and these are the people who are represented in the competition. The next stage of the competition will see the designs of regional finalists reviewed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

The list of 120 will then be narrowed down to eight and the winners will be announced on February 28, 2022. The eight winning stamp designs will be sent to Her Majesty The Queen.

Raphael’s inspirational design is pictured above and all regional winners can be found at stampcompetition.ichild.co.uk

Kayleen C. Rice