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Photographer Will Russell's shot at fair on behalf of Rafford Village Hall wins 2021 Village Hall’s Podcast competition

By Garry McCartney

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Will Russell’s prize-winning drone shot over the fair in Rafford this summer.
Will Russell’s prize-winning drone shot over the fair in Rafford this summer.

A PHOTOGRAPH taken to promote a local village has won a national contest.

Rafford Village Hall Committee chairwoman, Ruth Whitfield, explained that the group entered photographer Will Russell’s drone shot of attendees at their pop-up café on June 19 into the 2021 Village Hall’s Podcast competition, open to every village hall in the UK.

She said: “There were over 400 entries so we’re jumping for joy and chuffed to smithereens! The win gives the community a huge boost. Everyone who’s connected to the hall feels part of the success.”

The theme of the competition was: ‘A sense of village life and community spirit’. Judges valued emphasis on the contribution halls make to the sense of community in villages.

Ruth said: “The photographs were taken after 15 months of severe covid pandemic restrictions. Our popular village café had been closed and all hall events had been stopped so when restrictions eased in June we decided to hold a café and craft fair on our field.”

Finderne Development Trust helped with funding so the organisers decided it would be a free event where people could donate cash and food for Moray Food Plus.

Professional photographer Will Russell and his wife Angie lived in Rafford for 15 months before moving to Forres.

Ruth asked Will to picture as many people as possible at the event which was an ideal opportunity to portray “the heart of the community”.

She said: “The competition judges wanted something amusing and interesting that showed rural life. Rafford doesn’t have a shop, school or pub so, as well as the church, the village hall is the heart. We came up with the idea to create a heart with bunting that our Be Creative group made.”

Village Hall podcaster and judge, Johnny Thompson, was most impressed.

He said: “This photograph stood out for all kinds of reasons. There’s a very clear message of what village communities can achieve by coming together. It’s such a positive image of you all loving and caring for each other. I hope everyone in Rafford feels part of this because you all deserve it.”

Will won £500 and £1000 was won by Rafford Village Hall. Insurance supplier Allied Westminster sponsor the competition every year.

Managing director Gavin Mitchell said: “The photograph is an outstanding winner. The story behind it reinforces the decision because it’s such a clear rural community photograph.”

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