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'Wet guinea pig shake' Formby girl's pet image wins prize in RSPCA youth photo comp

POIGNANT, striking and funny pictures of pets, wildlife and farm animals selected by expert judges in the thirtieth year of the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards. A striking image of a guinea pig shaking himself after a bath has been commended in the Under 12 Mobile phone and devices category of the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2020.

'Wet Guinea Pig Shake' was taken by 11 year old Lyla Roberts from Formby, Merseyside, whose photo was picked from a record 11,000 entries this year. Youngsters aged up to 18 years old had been invited to capture the animal kingdom on camera or on a mobile device for this year's RSPCA Young Photographer Awards.

Lyla said:- "I'm so happy that the judges liked my photo of my guinea pig having a shake after a bath in some warm water."

This year's awards were blind judged online by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, including photographer and TV presenter and RSPCA Vice President Chris Packham. Also on the panel were award winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker, BBC drone pilot and new judge, Sam Rowley, wildlife photographer and former competition winner Catriona Parfitt, professional wildlife photographer and photographic guide Ellie Rothnie, nature photographer Julian Cox and the RSPCA's multimedia manager Andrew Forsyth and also new for this year, senior photographer Emma Jacobs.

Judge and awards host Chris Packham said:- "The quality of entries this year as the competition celebrates its 30th anniversary has been astounding. We felt that the lockdown ironically worked in all the young photographers favour; they really did enter fantastic pictures. I've been judging the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards since they started. It's exciting to have seen it move with the times, with new options regularly being introduced. This year we introduced a new category called Small World. We didn't want our young photographers to feel limited by lockdown, so we devised this to inspire them to record what was close to home. We needn't have worried though, as lockdown saw our entrants' creativity and imagination soar. We're also pleased that the Mobile Phone and Devices category continues, because as no separate camera is required, this has really opened up the competition to almost anyone. The RSPCA Young Photographer Awards is a true celebration of the animal kingdom and one I feel honoured to be involved with. Every person shortlisted should be proud of their contribution to a world that's kinder to all animals."

The winning images across nine categories, including three different age groups and an Instagram category, were announced during an online awards ceremony hosted by Chris Packham on Thursday, 17 December 2020. The 'Overall Winner' was chosen from the nine categories by the judges. Earlier this year, a special social media 'Instagram' RSPCA Young Photographer Awards category took place online and in addition, a selection of photos from this year's Mobile Phone and Devices and Picture Perfect Pets will be put to the public vote in the spring of 2021 to decide the 'People's Choice Award.

Reflecting on the strength of the competition this year, Chris Packham added:- "I'm really pleased to see everyday, overlooked animals given some leverage here. It's a new take on something very familiar that normally gets a bad press. From a wonderfully commanding image of a woodlouse that looks like an alien to the dynamic composition of two pigeons, one with a scabby foot, it's nice to see so many creative photos of a range of wildlife and people's pets in such a strong competition. It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, and demonstrates that the photographer has been really innovative. Top work to all the finalists and thank you for sharing and inspiring us with your passion for nature and photography."

For a full gallery of the winning images, please visit:- Young.RSPCA.Org.UK/YPA/Home.

People across Liverpool City Region thanked for sending Christmas cards to Gurkhas at Altcar Training Camp

PEOPLE across the Liverpool City Region have been thanked for their kindness after a detachment of Gurkhas moved into Altcar Training Camp in HighTown just before Christmas. Residents in the Region were asked to send Christmas cards to the 160 troops after they replaced hundreds of British Army soldiers who had been leading the local fight against Covid19.  And they have responded magnificently, with lots of cards now brightening up the camp walls to give the Gurkhas a warm Merseyside welcome during the festive season.  Altcar Training Camp Commandant Colonel Gordon Black said:- "Since we launched the appeal, lots of Christmas cards have been arriving for the Gurkhas. We would like to say a big thank you everyone who has sent them. I was told that one Headmistress thought it a great idea and she asked all the children in her School to make a Christmas card each for them. The 160 Gurkhas will be at Altcar Training Camp for a three month Training Programme. They will be spending Christmas here. Gurkhas were 1st recruited into the British Army 200 years ago from the Nepal Region in India and are renowned for their loyalty, and for being and amongst the finest troops in the world. Many of them in different conflicts have been awarded the Victoria Cross for their outstanding bravery and sadly many have lost their lives in action. In World War 2, in Burma the Japanese enemy feared them most of all. As they are a long way away from home for Christmas it would be a wonderful idea if the friendly renowned Merseyside public sent them Christmas cards so that they can decorate their Army rooms for the Festive Season."

Please post your Christmas cards or messages to:- Gurkha Soldier, Altcar Training Camp, HighTown, LIVERPOOL, L38 7JE.

2000 soldiers were deployed in Liverpool, in November 2020, where they led a pilot mass Coronavirus testing programme that was supported by huge numbers of local residents.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the 1st ever such scheme:- "has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against Covid19."  It proved to be so successful that it helped to drive down Coronavirus cases across the Liverpool City Region, enabling the area to escape the strict national lockdown and into less restrictive Tier 2 measures in the run up to Christmas.  The mass testing programme is now being rolled out in other areas of the country after the hugely successful British Army testing operation in Liverpool.  The troops who were involved in the process were stationed at Altcar Training Camp in HighTown, Liverpool and at Pontins Holiday Camp in Ainsdale, Southport.  British Army personnel have been working hard throughout the year, operating mobile Coronavirus testing sites across our Region.  The ability to save lives and relieve pressure on the NHS would not have been possible without them. Now they are looking forward to enjoying some well earned leave after this most challenging of years.  Altcar Training Camp Commandant Colonel Gordon Black said:- "The Army has been supporting our wonderful NHS over the last months with the battle against the horror of Covid19. They have made a major contribution to reducing virus levels in our Region, which has seen the Liverpool City Region being reduced to a lower Tier 2 level and an example to the rest of the country to follow. It has been early 4am starts for them and long days but they have been delighted with the great welcome they have received from local communities, which is the trademark of the people of Merseyside."

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