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'Photographic memory' will be key to this year's school arts competition

Children living near Peters Village on the east bank of the River Medway, have celebrated local heritage with wide-ranging art over the past three years.

Paintings, drawings, sculptures, models and many abstract creations have all featured in the annual ‘Why I Love My Valley’ Arts Competition for village primary schools in Wouldham, Eccles and Burham.

But this year’s event – with £3,500 worth of prizes on offer – will explore photography, a medium untouched by the school so far.

The competition was launched by Peters Village developer Trenport in 2015 to help foster relations between the all-new 1,000-home community and its neighbours.

It was then co-sponsored in 2017 by housebuilder Orbit, and support has mushroomed this year with Ashberry Homes, Bellway Homes, Hyde New Homes, Westerhill Homes and Baxall Construction, all becoming backers too.

Children from the three primary schools, will compete for a generous £3,500 worth of prizes, spread across first, second and third prizewinners and ‘Highly Commended’ entries – a panel of local judges will be announced shortly.

Borough Councillor Roger Dalton, and the Mayor for Tonbridge & Malling 2017-18, has been ever-present at the judging and presentation and is looking forward to more involvement in 2018:

“I cannot praise the promoters and organisers enough. The standard is always amazing but goes up a notch each year too. 

“And you need only recall 2017’s outcome, to see the beneficial effect on the children: Eccles school was disappointed with its results in years one and two but roared back last year to make a clean sweep of the prizes – a fantastic sign of the good being done here.”

This was also acknowledged at last year’s prizegiving when Jonathan Bassett (pictured below), the head teacher at St Mark’s Primary School, Eccles, said:

“This annual competition has changed how we look at art in our school. We have had to raise our game – today’s result speaks for itself.”

Trenport Community Liaison Manager Shirley Boards said: “The competition has been a huge success and we are delighted by the recognition and support this year from the growing number of housebuilders at Peters Village.”

As usual, the competition has launched with a series of mentored art workshops for the children and co-ordinator Colleen Dunn explained her choice of photography to challenge the children’s creativity this year:

“This generation will grow up with photography as second nature thanks to the ubiquitous mobile phone, but digital ‘snaps’ and ‘selfies’ are a tiny part of the potential in these gadgets. 

“We want the children to use them more imaginatively to create a living archive of how the Medway Valley is evolving in the 21st century, by picturing people, places and objects, the river and roads, or local wildlife.”

Prizegiving 2017: Orbit Operations Manager (Southern) Pippa Ellis praised the standard of work

Silver prizewinner 2017 Charlie Briggs of Eccles school chats with Sports Minister and MP for Chatham & Aylesford Tracey Crouch, who presented the prizes, while (below) Wouldham school pupils celebrate being overall winners in 2016