Ben Harrott from the Oldham Ward, Ashton Stake, was singled out from more than 4000 entries to claim the title of RSPCA Young Photographer of the Year in this annual and prestigious competition which has been running for 32 years.
The event was held at the Tower of London, where Ben along with his father were invited to receive his award from one of the judges, Chris Packham of television fame.
Ben entered the 16-18 age group, where he won both the runners-up and winner’s certificate for his pictures. His picture of a shy mountain hare won the prestigious award of Overall Winner.
The judges said they chose Ben’s shot because they were impressed by his ability to capture this rare encounter with such a shy animal, as well as the “bravery of the near abstract composition”.
Chris Packham added “Ben Harrott’s stunning picture of a mountain hare really stood out. Ben is a really worthy winner.”
When asked about his picture, Ben had this to say-“I’m so happy that the judges like my photo of a mountain hare so much.
“Winter at my local moorland is often cold and this particular day was freezing. The winter sun was out which didn’t help at all and after walking for hours I finally spotted this mountain hare. After hours of steady approach, I was the closest I have ever been to a mountain hare. The sun was setting and the mountain hare was fully relaxed in my presence so I was able to photograph this individual as the sun was going down.”
News of his award was printed alongside the winning picture in national and local newspapers, various magazines and was announced on local TV news.
Ben had also received a runners-up certificate a year earlier in the “Portfolio” category, for his series of fantastic images of red foxes.
Ben’s interest in photographing animals began when he was 14. Whilst being driven to school, he noticed some deer in a field and wished he could have taken a picture. He had caught the bug. He would go out in the early hours of the morning or late afternoons looking for animal and bird subjects he could photograph. His family have encouraged and supported his passion, even arranging trips to the Isle of Skye so he could photograph sea otters.
He has held a few photography workshops, and has been part of school assemblies where he has been able to share his passion with younger children. He produces a calendar with 12 of his favourite pictures from the previous year to help raise funds for camera equipment and other such expenses.
Ben’s hobby has given him a deep appreciation, love, and respect for all of Heavenly Father’s creations, and the natural world where he feels at one with his surroundings. A very hands on young man, Ben hopes to get involved in land conservation projects. He will continue with his photography and see where it takes him. Ben also loves spending time with friends and attending institute. He really is a great example of the Rising Generation, and of the talents and skills these young people have been blessed with.