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Winners to be revealed in the 2023 Liverpool City Region Photo Awards

THE winners of the inaugural Liverpool City Region Photo Awards will be revealed next week whittled down from nearly 2000 images which were entered into the competition.

Created by Open Eye Gallery with the support of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the awards celebrate the culture, creativity and vibrancy of photography enthusiasts from across:- Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

The judges have chosen 11 category winners and 33 commended submissions, which will make up a special exhibition at the gallery, as well as the photographs that got a special mention (jurors' choice). The overall winner will be announced at an event on 10 March 2023.

Prizes include:-

£1,600 in cash prizes.

Stay and breakfast at INNSiDE Liverpool.

Free memberships at dot-art Darkroom.

Darkroom materials from Harman Technology.

Mariama Attah Head of Exhibitions, at Open Eye Gallery, and judge in the 2022 Sony World Photography Award, said:- "The LCR Photo Awards celebrate not only the photographic talent in the Region, but also the deep love and personal approaches of how photography can be used. The images here show the range and imagination of visual culture, forming an impressive and reflective inaugural exhibition."

Councillor Mike Wharton the Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and The Visitor Economy at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said:- "This is the first year we have held these Awards and we have been blown away by the response and quality of the entries! We hope this will be a regular event and that it will inspire a whole new generation of photographers from the Liverpool City Region."

Submissions were open to anyone living in the Liverpool City Region with entries telling impressive stories, be it the joy of a football game, personal stories of love, grief and gratitude, the buzz of everyday urban life, quiet trips to be in nature or journeys to the most exotic places. From portrait to landscape, from still life to wildlife, they showed the power of a photograph.

An image from every single entry will be featured in the Digital Window Gallery exhibition.

Judge, Lindsay Taylor, Curator at the University of Salford Art Collection, and judge in the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards said:- "It was truly a privilege and delight to be invited to judge these awards. It was wonderful to see so much creativity, inspiration and talent from across the City Region. Congratulations to everyone who took part!"

Winners of the Liverpool City Region Photo Awards will be announced at the exhibition opening on:- Friday, 10 March 2023, 6pm to 8pm, at the Open Eye Gallery where there will be drinks and music from Dance for Plants. RSVP at Eventbrite.

Edge Hill's Fastrack course helps care leaver kickstart his career ambitions

A care leaver and mature student has turned his life around after completing Edge Hill University's Fastrack course and is now on the path to fulfilling his career dreams.

Stuart Baker, 41 and originally from Liverpool, lost both of his parents by the time he was 6. What followed was difficult couple of years living with a guardian until social services intervened.

Stuart was eventually fostered but his experiences had already left their mark and he struggled growing up. At School he felt he didn't fit in, he was later expelled and left School with no qualifications.

Stuart said:- "I always loved learning, when I 1st started at School I was in all the top sets, but I fell in with a bad crowd and lost my way, eventually leaving with no GCSEs."

These days Stuart says he is finally settled, studying for a BSC (Hons) Biology degree at Edge Hill University and living in Ormskirk with his partner and newborn baby. He has rediscovered his love of learning and has ambitions to study for a Masters degree and PhD, eventually becoming an academic.

Offering his advice to future students Stuart said:- "I've always just worked to pay the bills, but now I've got a passion for what I do. I want to learn everything I can and eventually I'll be able to start a career I love. I also hope to give back and help other kids in care, passing on what I've learnt and helping them get a good start in life. I want to make it clear that anyone can go to University. No matter where you've come from and what has happened in life, how old you are or your educational background, University is an option."

But Stuart's life wasn't always so simple. In the years after leaving School Stuart studied business at college, went to catering School and has had a varied career working as a chef and running his own businesses.

Despite the outward appearance of success, he suffered some major setbacks. His grandmother passed away, 2 of his friends, both care leavers, committed suicide, and he lost his business in 2019. These events, combined with trauma from his past, led to a breakdown. Feeling lost and directionless decided he needed a new start. "Everything was going well for a while, working hard and doing my best to stay afloat, but when I lost people important to me and my business went under all the feelings I'd bottled up since childhood came out. I was in a bad way for a few years suffering from severe depression," Stuart added. It was definitely the most difficult period in my life, but:- "everything changed when I came to Edge Hill's open day."

After moving to Ormskirk in Lancashire he visited Edge Hill University for an open day and was drawn to biology. Given his past experiences in education he assumed he could never get into University, but after talking to the course tutors he was persuaded to apply for the Fastrack: Preparation For Higher Education course which starts with an extra introductory year to bring learners up to speed.

Stuart said:- "I came to 5 different open days at Edge Hill looking at all the courses they offer. Coming onto the campus instantly made me feel like I could be a part of something and having new goals really helped me see a new path. I was fascinated by the biology course and talked to the tutors about my background and lack of formal education, but they made it clear that was no barrier to studying. They suggested I join Fastrack and I jumped at the chance. It's been challenging, it's like learning a new language at times, but I've had a lot of support including being awarded a scholarship which has helped financially. I've now completed my Fastrack year and started my degree course, I love it."

Anyone interested in finding out more about Fastrack courses at Edge Hill can book onto the Fastrack information evening taking place on:- 9 March 2023, from:- 5.30pm to 7pm. 

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