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Devon teenager wins internationally acclaimed photography competition

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A teenager from Pennymoor near Tiverton, in Devon has won an international photography competition for a photo he took of a swan.

17-year-old Adam Lake took the photo while he was volunteering with the rangers along the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton.

His photo went up against 15,000 others taken all around the world for the Young Bird Photographer of the Year competition. Adam won the 14-17-year category and was also awarded the title of ‘Overall Young Bird Photographer of the Year for 2020’.

On taking the picture, Adam said: “I was working along the canal, when a juvenile swan started to come towards me. I thought it might’ve been interested in what we were doing or more likely just wanted a bit of my packed lunch!

“I got a little closer to the water’s edge. Because it was so spontaneous, I only had my mobile phone, so I put it low to the ground, roughly eye level with the swan and I took a couple of photos. My entry was definitely the best one.”

Adam has been a volunteer with the Grand Western Canal for the past 5 years. He has now finished his countryside management course at college and is now looking for a job as a ranger/warden.

Talking about his volunteer work, Adam said: “My role mainly involves supporting the team with canal maintenance and management. I have wanted to be a ranger since school and by doing all this volunteering work alongside my college work, it puts me in a great position to make that happen, as you need a lot of experience to do the job.”

Adam is one of many people who had been offered the opportunity to volunteer and work alongside the rangers at Grand Western Canal Country Park & Local Nature Reserve. The reserve offers work experience to college students, like Adam, who want build towards becoming a full-time ranger/warden.

Mark Baker, Country Parks, said: “In recent years we have had students from Bicton College, Bridgewater College and Petroc College and have provided opportunities for people to volunteer midweek with the rangers, as Adam did with his dad before he started college. This has been put on hold at present due to COVID-19, but hopefully we will be able to offer these opportunities again as they are so important to those who get involved.”

The image of the swan won Adam £300 and a pair of binoculars. Adam says that he will use the prize money to buy a new camera or maybe some better camera equipment.

On what the future holds for Adam and his photography, he said: “I want to keep taking photos and continue to experience the joy of working outside.”

Usually, an awards ceremony would be held to present Adam with his award, however due to current circumstances that was postponed. However, Adam will be presented the prize binoculars by Bird Photographer of the Year director, Andrew Cleave.

You can also keep up to date with all of Adam’s photography adventures by following him on Instagram: @adamlakenature