A schoolgirl from Enfield has been named among the winners of the Times & Independent Series Young Reporters Scheme.

Emma Wooldridge took first prize with her article, Kathy's Carol, which tells the story of a woman who helps to spread Christmas cheer by carol singing in her community.

The Year 10 student, who attends St Martha’s Senior School in Camley Way, Hadley Wood, was voted the winner in the competition’s event category for entries from pupils in Year 10 and 11.

She said: “The Young Reporters Scheme has given me a great opportunity to explore different aspects of journalism. It has been interesting for me to see how I have developed my skills in order to write a new article each month and hit the deadlines. I have really enjoyed taking part.”

The Young Reporters Scheme, run by the Times & Independent Series’ owner Newsquest, has run for six years and takes place between September and April.

All students have to write eight articles over the eight months - all to deadlines. Those that do the articles then receive a Letter of Recognition signed by the editor and those that do all eight without missing any deadlines are put forward to compete against all the other students in their category to win prizes.

There are two categories: Years 10 to 11 and Years 12 to 13, and the winners were lucky enough to experience a day at with the journalism department at Kingston University.

Diana Jarvis, who has run the scheme since it started in 2008, said: “This is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for students to experience life as a journalist working for a real live news organisation. This year almost 1,000 students took up the challenge, writing some interesting stories, which were published on our online newspapers.”

Here is Emma’s winning entry, entitled Kathy’s Carols:

What do you think of when someone mentions Christmas? Maybe its mince pies or mulled wine. Perhaps its presents and snow. Well, often its Christmas carols and Christmas cheer. The idea that Christmas is an occasion to spend with family and friends. To many people Christmas is a time to be with company you treasure, surrounded by laughter and conversation with the Christmas carol playlist on repeat. Well, in my neighbourhood one member of the local community, Kathy, takes carol singing to a whole new level.

Song books printed, tables lined with food and rooms full of people preparing for their pre-church warm up. The song books are full of the best loved Christmas carols and the people gathered in the rooms are ready for a snack and a sing song before the ten minute trek, through whatever wintery weather is thrown their way, to the local church for Christmas mass.

There is a buzz throughout the house as Kathy readily conducts the eager crowd through Ding Dong Merrily on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night. The gathering of people offered their unique effort towards the carol singing. Kathy was the conductor, people that spoke a foreign language offered up their own verse of Silent Night and some offered a harmony for some carols. Perhaps not everyone sang in tune, but it didn’t matter. There were people of all ages, three generations of some families in that kitchen. Everyone was together, spreading Christmas cheer.

Kathy has been spreading Christmas cheer in this way for the last four years and the numbers in attendance grow each year. Alessia, a newcomer to the festivities this year said: “The gathering was an excellent way to put us in the festive mood. It was filled with Christmas spirit and was a perfect way to socialise and meet your friends and some new people. I thoroughly enjoyed the gathering and the Christmas spirit that surrounded it.” As the number of willing participants grows so do the contributions to the different languages of Silent Night (ranging from Italian to Japanese) and also to the long list of beautifully traditional carols sung happily inside, no matter the weather outside.