Mum from Hemel ‘thrilled’ after winning photography competition

April Showers by photography competition winner Sarah Clark of Hemel (below)
April Showers by photography competition winner Sarah Clark of Hemel (below)

A mum has won the Hospice of St Francis Spring Photo Competition with a vibrant image of rapeseed fields beneath dramatic April skies.

Sarah Clark’s stunning photograph, “April Showers,” captured with her Olympus E450 DSLR camera on a recent trip to Norfolk, was one of more than 120 entries submitted by keen amateur snappers from across Hertfordshire and beyond.

The competition, on the theme of Spring, was held to give the community a say in how their hospice looks and to help it complete the refurbishment of its health and wellbeing Spring Centre, where the top three images and seven runners up, will now be displayed.

Mum-of-one Sarah, 42, a finance and administration manager, from Shrubhill Road, Hemel, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won but I’m absolutely thrilled! I love taking photos as a hobby and I’m delighted that visitors to the Spring Centre will be able to share what I thought was a magical scene just outside Fakenham.

“I loved the drama of the dark April storm against the vibrancy of the rapeseed fields. I made my husband stop the car so I could trample through the fields and capture it and now I’m so glad I did! I was lucky to get it – moments later, the whole vista had changed.”

A panel of local professional photographers including former Gazette editor Adam Hollier, from Adam Hollier Photography in Tring, Cynthia Nolan from Shoot Me Studios in Berkhamsted and Zoe Hopkins, from Zoe C Photography in St Albans – judged the entries.

Praising the winning image, Adam said: “Sarah has really caught a typical English spring day with heavy rain and bursts of sunshine. I just love the vibrancy and brightness of the colours.”

“Her timing is impeccable,” added Zoe. “She was just in the right place at the right time and for me, has totally captured the essence of Spring – showers and rapeseed.”

An image of Ollie, the Sprollie (a Springer Spaniel/Border Collie cross), captured bounding through a bluebell wood by his owner Gareth Evans, 49, a support worker for Livability, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, came second, while unfurling ferns at Waddesdon Manor by Polly Walker, 37, a mum and conflict mediation consultant from Bell Lane, Northchurch, came third.

Cynthia Nolan, owner of Shoot Me studios, said: “The winning images really capture the spirit of Berkhamsted and beyond. They show excellent composition, great understanding of lighting and a passion for the vision that each photographer wanted to create.

“It’s wonderful for photography to be appreciated as an art and to know that they will have pride of place at our local hospice.”

The Hospice was delighted with the public’s “inspired” response to the competition. Kimberley McLaughlin, director of Supportive Care, said: “The quality of entries was wonderful! Adults and children really embraced their creativity and connected with typical Spring themes like growth, life and activity.

“Our Spring Centre is all about wellbeing, self-management and engaging with our community and the winning entries will really help to enhance the healing environment, be a great way to bring the outdoors in and will provide a wonderful focal point for conversation for all our patients, staff and visitors.

“We’d like to thank everyone who took part for responding in such an inspired and creative way as well as our judges for choosing the winners and kindly donating such generous prizes.”

The winning submissions are available to view on the Hospice’s website. The photographers behind the top 10 images will be invited to a special unveiling ceremony at the Hospice’s Spring Garden Lane site next month and prizes awarded to the top three.

First prize is a three-hour bespoke photography workshop worth £125 with Adam Hollier Photography, which includes a 10” x 8” professional print of the lucky winner’s favourite shot of the day.

Second prize is a family shoot and 10”x 8” professional print, courtesy of Zoe C Photography in St Albans, while third prize is a year’s membership, worth £100, of Shoot Me Studios’ Photography Club, which meets in Berkhamsted on the first Tuesday of every month.

The Hospice supports people facing life-shortening illnesses across Bucks and Herts and its Spring Centre is meeting a real need in the local community, offering patients, their carers and family members support to make life the best it can be.

Its range of courses, workshops therapies and therapeutic groups help individuals practically and emotionally to build their resilience and continue to live their lives - better and for longer. Find out more.