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Countryfile's Richard Taylor-Jones hails talent in Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory's art competition for kids


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Wildlife inspired youngsters from all over the world to put pen to paper or get snapping with their cameras for a Kent observatory.

It was for a picture competition organised by Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory to encourage more young people to connect with nature as part of our ongoing project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Richard Taylor-Jones. Pictures Les Irvine
Richard Taylor-Jones. Pictures Les Irvine

The competition was launched during lockdown in February and the high standard of work impressed celebrity judge Richard Taylor-Jones, a wildlife presenter for BBC Countryfile, The One Show, Coast and Springwatch.

Sharon Irvine of the observatory said: "During the pandemic many people recognised the positive impact engaging with nature has on mental health and well being and we wanted to showcase the local nature and wildlife that has kept us all going.

"Research shows children who develop an interest are more likely to take action on conservation in the future.

"Having someone like Richard was amazing with his expertise to judge the high standard of entries.

"Social Media meant we had entries from all over the UK and we even had an entry from Bangladesh!"

"It’s wonderful to see so many people engage so enthusiastically with an art completion that celebrates nature..."

All entries are displayed in recently reopened bird hides owned by the observatory in Guilford Road, Sandwich Bay, which families and children can view at any time.

The overall winner was Millie Momahon, aged five, from Warden House Primary in Deal whose fantastic fox painting impressed Mr Taylor-Jones.

Other winners were Eryn Curnow from an Ashford school who won the art entry and Will Lawson 17, won the photography section.

Millie Momahon from Warden House Primary with her fantastic fox. Pictures Les Irvine
Millie Momahon from Warden House Primary with her fantastic fox. Pictures Les Irvine

Richard Taylor-Jones said: "It’s wonderful to see so many people engage so enthusiastically and with so much talent with an art completion that celebrates nature.

"I am sure it has kept many people busy during the recent lock down looking at the results.

Millie's fantastic fox. Pictures Les Irvine
Millie's fantastic fox. Pictures Les Irvine

"It was, of course, hugely difficult to judge an over all winner with such a diverse set of skills being employed and a huge age range too.

"In the end though I had to go with the picture that jumped out at me beyond all others and that was the fantastic 'Millie's Fox'."

Eryn Curnow receives her certificate from Richard Taylor-Jones beside her picture of a blue tit
Eryn Curnow receives her certificate from Richard Taylor-Jones beside her picture of a blue tit

He added: "Mille took to her task with clearly an enormous amount of energy, filling her page with a simple bold and striking take on this most familiar animal.

"It was individual and fun - it brought a huge smile to my face. So congratulations Millie.

Eryn Curnow's blue tit. Pictures Les Irvine
Eryn Curnow's blue tit. Pictures Les Irvine

"The painting prize went to the incredibly talented Eryn Curnow who at just age seven has shown huge attention to details and technical ability to produce and a water colour painting of a blue tit.

"For the photography prize it was a actually an easy decision for me, the macro shot of a Ruby Tailed Wasp was always a winner.

Will Lawson's ruby tailed wasp. Pictures Les Irvine
Will Lawson's ruby tailed wasp. Pictures Les Irvine

"The power of photography is often the ability to highlight those things people can not see - which is exactly what this shot does with such a tiny but stunningly beautiful insect that is easily missed by most.

"Congratulations to everyone who took part and a big thank you SBBOT for asking me to judge the completion."

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