Dedicated to the Gaelic Language of the Isle of Man

Inaugural winners of the Sophia Morrison Award

Culture Vannin and the Department of Education, Sport and Culture are pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the Sophia Morrison Award, which recognises and celebrates the achievement of young people learning the Manx language. The award for 2022 was given to two outstanding students: Fiona Pierce and Elena Caley.

The annual Sophia Morrison Award honours the highest grading under-18 student in the Teisht Chadjin Ghaelgagh (GCSE equivalent), and fosters and recognises the efforts of young students in learning and promoting the Manx language. The winner is selected by the Department of Education, Sport and Culture’s Manx Language Unit. Prize money of £500 and an engraved medal are given to the successful recipient, who is required to produce a short piece of work in Manx.

Alongside working hard in their studies, both Fiona and Elena also translated a Beatrix Potter book into Manx; Fiona completed a translation of The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, and Elena completed a translation of The Tale of Tom Kitten, both of which have now been published as bilingual editions of the classic books.

Fiona Pierce, a former student of QEII High School, shared her surprise and pleasure at the accolade: “I’m very grateful for the award – it was a massive surprise! I wasn’t expecting any prize at all.”

She added: “It’s important for me to keep up using Manx while I’m away at university as it helps me feel rooted to the Island.”

Elena Caley, a student at Ballakermeen High School, was also delighted to receive the award:

“It’s an honour to receive the Sophia Morrison Award. Translating the ‘The Tale of Tom Kitten’ took a lot of time and effort, and I am very happy with the end result. I hope that it can inspire the next generation to read and have an interest in the language.”

The annual award was made possible thanks to the T C M and C N Frost Bequest to Culture Vannin. Passionate about Manx language, the Frosts recognised its importance to the island and its people. They had witnessed the upsurge of interest in the language in recent years, and wanted to acknowledge the key role that young people hold in the future of Manx through the creation of this award.

Sophia Morrison is best known today for her Manx Fairy Tales, but was a cultural activist, folklore collector and writer, who worked for many years as Secretary to Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh, the Manx Language Society. So much of Sophia’s work focussed on the need to pass on Manx culture and language to young people, so it is very apt that the award was named in her honour.

Published: Mon, 24 Jul 2023