A WRITING competition inspired by a brilliant student who died at the age of 20 has received a record number of entries.

Ashera Sheikh died suddenly from a heart attack in November 2010 while she was studying law at Durham University.

After her death, a humanities competition was set up in memory of the exceptional Haslingden High School student.

She left the school in 2008 and her high academic achievements had left her on course to fulfil her dream of becoming a barrister.

This is the third year the school has held the Ashera Sheikh Memorial Prize Essay Competition.

Head of religious studies Ben Wood said: “We have had 22 essays entered this year, more than any other year.

“The essays ranged from 500 to 2,000 words on a variety of subjects.

“A team of five senior staff selected a shortlist of five, and then we had a robust discussion to select the top three.

“All five shortlisted essays will be published in our faculty journal and it will include a critique on the bottom of each essay.”

This year’s winner was Harriet Allen, from Year 13, for her essay on the success or failure of the Russian Revolutions.

She said: “I am really interested in Russian history.

“In the essay I discussed the different revolutions and the condition the country was in at the time.

“I was really shocked to win, I did better than I expected.”

Year 12 student Kelsey Hammond came second with her discussion on the treatment of criminals.

Third place went to Harriet Tuite, also from Year 13, whose essay examined empiricism and rationalism as potential sources for knowledge.

Harriet won the Ashera Sheikh Memorial Prize Shield, a certificate and a cheque for £50.

Kelsey received a certificate and a cheque for £30 and Harriet Tuite received a certificate and a cheque for £20.