‘Happy Birthday Her Majesty’


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COVER STAR: Ayesha Akhtar is all smiles with her winning design on the front of the Radio Times celebratory issue

COVER STAR: Ayesha Akhtar is all smiles with her winning design on the front of the Radio Times celebratory issue

Bradford girl’s birthday card becomes iconic cover image

Not many eight-years-olds can say they have had a drawing published on the front of a renowned national magazine cover, yet one Bradford schoolgirl can do just that.

Ayesha Akhtar pipped 11,000 other entries from across the UK to land the cover image on the latest celebratory edition of Radio Times – designed to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

The competition, launched in March, asked children from across the country to a design birthday card for the Queen for the chance to feature on the iconic front cover.

It was up to judges - writer and illustrator Judith Kerr, Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell, BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, Radio Times Editor Ben Preston and Radio Times Art Director Shem Law - to select the winning picture.

Ayesha’s award-winning entry, an eye-catchingly purple and gold majestic crown design, was a unanimous choice for the judges.

Judith Kerr said: “Ayesha’s drawing will work brilliantly on the cover.  I think the Queen would approve.”

Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell added: “I wanted to find a cover that felt like a celebration – Ayesha’s design really does that.”

CLASSY DESIGN: Ayesha is a student at Dixons Manningham Academy

CLASSY DESIGN: Ayesha is a student at Dixons Manningham Academy

On being presented with her winning cover, Ayesha said she could not believe she had won with her sparkling design.

“I feel elated and I’m so happy that the Queen will get to see my way of drawing,” she added.

“I came up with my design because the Queen wears her crown at special occasions - like birthdays.

“I did it in pencil first and then went over it in paint and glitter.

“If I met the Queen, I’d tell her how kind she is and that she’s the best Queen in the world.”

Thousands of entries were submitted for the competition and judged across three age groups – eight-years-old and under, 9-12, and 13-18 years.

Nadia Charawala, aged 12 years old from Worcester Park, won the 9-12 year category, with a patriotic tea cup design, whilst Emily Gorton, aged 13 of Epsom, won the 13-18 year old category, with a vivid red, white and blue bunting design.

Ben Preston, Radio Times Editor, praised the enthusiasm shown toward the project.

He said: “Does the Queen still hold a place in the affections of the young?

“There is no more eloquent answer to this question than a teetering tower of cardboard boxes that grew steadily in a corner of the Radio Times office over the past month.  

“The results are a joy. Corgis, handbags, crowns, red buses, horses, carriages and hundreds of smiling, benevolent grey-haired ladies.

“Here is proof of an enduring, shared affection among a new generation for the Queen.  Many congratulations - and thanks - to everyone who took part.”

The winning design is featured on the front cover of the new issue of Radio Times, with the age category winning designs featured on the inside pages, alongside the 6 runners-up in each category.

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