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Children's photographic memories are big hit for £3,500 Peters Village art competition

Focussing on photography for the fourth annual Peters Village ‘Why I Love My Valley’ Schools Art Competition made it the best so far, according to the winning school’s head.

Jonathan Bassett of St Mark’s Primary, Eccles was reflecting on his school’s second overall win in two years:

“And winning may be even more satisfying than 2017, because this generation of children is the most comfortable ever with cameras and photography – every household will have several smartphones – so creativity was driven much more by the children themselves," added Mr Bassett (pictured right).

"They were also even more excited this time and well supported by their families, as I witnessed while cycling home and coming across a St Mark's family taking photos all along a valley path.

Pictured below: Year 3 St Mark's pupils Imogen and Elijah with their school's winning entry and the £2,000 cheque presented by Tonbridge & Malling Mayor Cllr Pam Bates

"The children also enjoyed unearthing school history via photos and records; discovering details of a school coach trip to Margate being one highlight.

"As I said last year, this art competition has really made us and our neighbouring schools think again about art, and lift our ambitions for the children. We look forward to next year."

A generous total of £3,500 worth of competition prize money loomed large in the viewfinders of the children’s cameras, and St Mark's has no plans yet on how to spend its £2,000 top prize, but they may include ways to expand the photographic interest shown by the children.

The annual competition was launched by Peters Village developer Trenport in 2015 to foster relations between the all-new 1,000-home community and its long-established neighbours on the River Medway’s east bank: Wouldham, Burham and Eccles.

So, as before, St Mary’s in Eccles was competing with the neighbouring primary schools, Burham, and Wouldham All Saints.

The latter moved from its village centre in February to an all-new and expanded site less than a mile away on Peters Village, in order to serve both communities and was also the venue for the art competition presentations (Monday July 16).

Wouldham school head Carl Fitter welcomed all guests and visiting children, with Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling, Cllr Pam Bates making the prize presentations.

Chris Hall, Director of Peters Village developer Trenport, thanked all the location’s house builders – Orbit, Ashberry, Bellway, Hyde and Westerhill – and Baxall Construction, which built the new school – for joining Trenport in sponsoring the 2018 competition, adding:

“This year’s venue is a brand new school with fantastic facilities for the children of Wouldham and the growing community right here in Peters Village.

“You children have shown great imagination in the way you’ve used photography to create your entries. Every one of you should be very proud of your efforts – as we are. It must have been a very difficult for the judges to select the winners.”

Borough and parish Cllr Roger Dalton – the Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling 2017-18 – has served as a judge at every competition and told the children: “You are all winners and have raised the standard of this great competition year on year.”

His successor, Cllr Bates, then presented the awards:


1-GOLD (£2,000 and certificate) St Mark’s CE Primary School, Eccles

2-SILVER (£1,000 and certificate) Wouldham All Saints CE Primary School: Year 6 pupils Aidan and Georgia are pictured below with the Mayor.

3-BRONZE (£500 and certificate) Burham CE Primary School: Year 6 pupils Hollie and Aidan then received their school's award from the Mayor (right).

A further 15 ‘Highly Commended’ prizes were awarded to individuals for their photographic entries, each receiving £10 and a certificate (school years are bracketed). They are pictured below in order with the Mayor:

Burham: Reuben (2), Iliyan (3), Sophie (5), Zinnia (5) and Aidan (6).

Eccles:  Toby (1) Oliver (4), Raffiella (5), Todd (6) and Lily (6) - the last four are pictured, but see later in the story for Toby - the competition's youngest award winner.

Wouldham: Hugo (4), Charlotte (5), Reiss (5), Ellie (6) and Erin (6).

Competition organiser and Trenport Community Liaison Manager Shirley Boards said afterwards: “The competition continues to lift art and community spirit in local schools to new heights, further boosted this year by the presentations at the much enlarged Wouldham school, which also now serves Peters Village.

“We must thank all the sponsors and supporters of the competition:

Ashberry Homes

Baxall Construction Limited

Bellway Homes

Hyde New Homes and Westerhill Homes, working in partnership

Orbit Homes

Trenport Investments Limited

“As well as the visiting art mentors Colleen Dunn and Lou Hodgson from ‘Art And...’ who managed the creative side and workshops and inspired the schools’ pupils to make the best of their entries.

“We particularly liked Colleen’s idea to focus on photography this year, as this school generation is growing up with that medium, thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phone and more accessible cameras.

“And we are grateful to our excellent judging panel: Cllr Dalton (also Chairman of Burham Parish Council); the area’s PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) Kim Lidbury, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Scrutiny and Partnerships Manager Gill Fox; and Medway Valley photographer Keith Thompson.”

More pictures for the 2018 Peters Village school art competition 'Why I Love My Valley':

One of Eccles' Highly Commended entrants and the youngest winner in the competion - six-year-old Toby (top) and part of Wouldham's Silver award-winning entry (middle) and Burham's Bronze-winning entry (bottom).