THE winner of the Sunday National Yessay competition has been revealed.

You can read Gerry Singh’s winning entry on the front page of ­today’s Seven Days pull-out – or by clicking here.

Singh, 62, and who now lives in Perthshire, came out top in the ­estimation of both our judging panel and reader vote.

The trio of judges looking over the 20 shortlisted submissions was made up of Sunday National ­editor Roxanne Sorooshian, columnist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and ­Glasgow University professor of ­Scottish literature Alan Riach.

The standard of entries was high across the board – even beyond the 20 that had been shortlisted.

The National: Vector illustration of a fountain pen on a blue background with white letters below it..

Looking back at the ­contest, Riddoch said: “I have never read more uplifting and insightful essays in my life than these Yessay finalists.

“Even so, the winning ­essay is completely compelling. The ­author had one of the ­toughest starts in life, but has no ­resentment or anger.

“He uses striking insights rather than facts and figures to persuade floating voters and it works. Especially the conclusion – ‘I am here today because of humane public services like free education and health care. Isn’t that worth changing your mind for?’

“Spot on. Please read it.”

READ MORE: A nation again: Independence can bring peace to a troubled island

Fellow judge Riach was also impressed by the entries.

He said: “I enjoyed all 20 of the shortlisted essays very much. They were each of them lucid and strong, packed with facts backed up by ­verified references and braced by ­passion and commitment.

“The winning entry took the idea of driving across the border, first from Scotland into England and then from England into Scotland.

“What would it mean, to be crossing the border? What would ‘Welcome Home’ really signify? The writer mentioned a family history inclusive of Indian, Scots and Irish backgrounds, and emphasised how we all need to get beyond ‘the mind-forged manacles’ (in William Blake’s great phrase). It was a strong argument, with dramatic visualisation, and a great hinterland of reference marshalled easefully and appropriately. Terrific work.”

We spoke to Singh about his ­success yesterday.

Responding to the news, he told us: “What was going through my mind at the time of writing the essay was how important it is to contribute as individuals whatever skills we can bring to the table in making the case for independence as not just a political necessity but as something that will be to the benefit of everyone living in the UK as it is presently constructed.

“Landscape and nature are the great unifiers and having returned from a walking holiday I felt inspired to see the bigger picture and that it could be possible to state the need for us all to face our fears of the unknown with the conviction that the very real benefits of self determination can be realised without acrimony.

“I suppose I had a moment of ­clarity that the vision of a self-governing Scotland is within our grasp and I wanted to share that vision with those who may well have very understandable fears.

“Change is never easy. But what an opportunity we have to make history. Such opportunities rarely present themselves and I felt it was important to face my own fears first by writing the essay and putting it out there and seeing what happens.

“I am glad I did and hope that what I have written can inspire others who may still be unsure about taking the leap of faith that it may require to imagine a better future.”


We’d like to thank all the entrants once again – stay tuned for information on how we plan to showcase more and for information on our top young essayist.