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Gotcha! It’s the KU first- year wot won it at The Sun

By River Reporter Nov 24, 2011

By Natasha Szymaniak

Enjoying every sip, taking in all its hot, milky glory – Tom Hale knew that there was something more to Tea. It was a way of life, the drink of the nation. Tea needed to be celebrated.

Tom, 18, a first year Kingston student, has bagged a prestigious award from The Sun, after writing about his love of tea for the Column Idol competition, beating writers nationwide.

The history student, defeated five other finalists with his tea-themed column.

His work was submitted to the judges, including, the editor Dominic Mohan and columnist Jane Moore, who loved his work about Britain’s favourite brew.

Tom said: “Column Idol was one of the best experiences. I got a taste of how a national newspaper is run on a daily basis but also a chance to develop my skills and grow as both a writer and a person.”

The competition, now in its second year, is run by The Sun newspaper and charity Media Trust.

Six finalists including Tom were selected from more than 850 hopefuls in a national competition. The contestants, aged 18 to 25, had to submit short descriptions of themselves, what they would like to write about in their column and why they deserved to be the winner.

Tom’s column, Making Britain great again? It’s in the bag, was printed on September 23.

When asked why he wanted to write a column all about tea, Tom said: “Tea is what we start the day with and what keeps us going throughout the day.”

Singer Jessie J, comedy actor and writer James Corden and England star turned children’s book author Theo Walcott were the famous faces to front the campaign – persuading the nation’s young to pursue careers in journalism.

In an interview with The Sun, Corden pleaded for young writers to get involved in the competition. He said: “It’s important not to underestimate how powerful the written word can be. I had this desire to be more creative and to take more ownership over what I was doing. Instead of reading out someone else’s words, I wanted to bring my own writing to life.”

After winning the competition and having his column printed Tom has since become part of The Sun team, writing for them every other week on the features desk.

Check out the first year history student’s column writing talent

I like tea. My friends like tea, my friends’ friends like tea and I bet even the now slain Lord Voldemort loved tea.

In fact reading this now, I reckon you are probably drinking a nice cup of the good stuff and, if not, the likelihood is at some point in the day you will.

The UK Tea Council — yes, it does exist — claims that 75 per cent of people drink three or more cups a day — which isn’t surprising considering the UK is the biggest chai-consuming country in the world.

Part of the reason for this is it has the edge over other drinks.

 Don’t get me wrong, I am partial to the occasional cup of coffee but it’s just not the same. With coffee you just slap the ingredients into the cup, add hot water and the whole thing is over in a matter of seconds.

Coffee is empty, there’s no craftsmanship to it and somehow it’s sort of plain and lifeless — like a stag night in Stockport.

Try to rush tea and it simply won’t have it.

It seems the faster you stir a teabag the less it wants to mix with the water — like a girlfriend who deliberately takes longer to get ready because you’ve asked her to get her skates on.

You have to take your time but, like the end of Loose Women, it’s worth the wait.

Making a good brew is somewhat of a talent — either you have it or you don’t.

I have the tea-making skills of a meerkat on Baileys, but my dad can make a blinding cuppa.

You yourself may be one of these people who have, as I like to call it, “The gift” — the gift that turns you into some kind of mad chai-making wizard, able to mix the perfect potion. I’ve actually seen people throw tea away because they have made the smallest of mistakes in the creation process.

Now there’s a Hell’s Kitchen I would pay to see — “Table three are refusing to pay for their Earl Grey!”

In this current economic climate, people are tightening their belts, so maybe Earl Grey is off the cards for now anyway.

The G20 meet this month to discuss financial problems, and several of its members make it into the top 20 tea-consuming countries.

Naturally, Britain is leading from the front. Who’s to say it has to end there?

With the Olympics in our cross hairs and the 2015 Rugby World Cup on the horizon — maybe now is the best time ever to sit down with our G20 counterparts, roll up our sleeves, have a debate over a cuppa, and work out how to put Britain back on the map.

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