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Photography contest engages with Northern Irish communities amid rising Covid-19 cases

Funeral Partners’ Northern Ireland branches ran a photography competition to engage with their local communities while remaining cautious about social distancing as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Inspired by the recent 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, James Brown & Sons Funeral Directors in Belfast and John Gray & Co Funeral Directors in Bangor, Newtownards and Holywood asked people to send pictures of wildlife, nature and the environment to be in with the chance of winning £200-worth of photography equipment.

Regional Development Director Julian Hodgkinson and James Brown, Consultant at James Brown & Sons, received a number of breath-taking entries across Northern Ireland to judge, from Silent Valley to Strangford Lough. They decided to award first place to Andy Coulter, an electrician at Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, for his shot of a lone tree shrouded by water.

Andy said: “I happened to have a photograph that fitted the bill which I took in January after painstaking patience, so when my wife tagged me in Funeral Partners’ Facebook post, I knew I had to submit it.

“I first noticed the tree while out for a walk about three or four months before actually taking the photo. However, there had been no substantial rainfall to cause a flood, which I felt was needed to hide the rather messy foreground.

“I kept walking the same path to find the perfect conditions and eventually, after two weeks of downpour, the tree was left isolated against a vibrant magenta sky that seemed to mirror the water, so I took the shot.”

James Brown & Sons awarded Andy a camera strap as his prize for the winning shot and now plans to turn the best entries into a calendar for 2022. Sales from the calendar will be donated to Cruse Bereavement Support in Northern Ireland to support their much-needed services.

Andy concluded with some advice for the runners-up: “The chances of me walking across that image while it was in a flood and good light was a million in one, so you really have to plan for your shots, put in the groundwork and practice, practice, practice.”

Mulhollands Funeral Directors in Carrickfergus and Larne recently launched its own photography competition through Facebook and hopes to engage with its local communities with the same level of success.

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