"My hope, as it is so often, is in young people. Their excitement when they glimpse a robin in the park or garden, see swallows flying, hear owls hooting. Seeing these wild creatures in nature is the way they can learn about and respect them, not in captivity where their instincts and natural behaviour patterns can never be expressed.” – Virginia McKenna OBE
All submissions were required to focus on the entrant’s personal experiences of the nature and wildlife that’s on their doorstep – in the sky, in the garden, neighbourhood streets, local park or pond — and of course could not feature captive animals in any form. Every entry showcased one or more of the following: wildlife living free in the UK, local conservation efforts, and/or a local environmental issue.
World famous wildlife photographer George Logan, alongside award-winning environmental writer, conservation photographer, documentary filmmaker, and book author, Isabelle Groc, judged the entries, supported by one of Born Free Kenya’s Conservation Managers, David Manoa.
Winners received prizes including Jessops Canon EOS 2000D Digital SLR camera kit and £200 vouchers.
Judge George Logan said “I’ve really enjoyed judging Born Free’s inaugural ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ competition. The enthusiasm and effort have been a joy to see and is very encouraging for the future. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists.”
Isabelle Groc added that “The images and films we have received capture the amazing diversity and beauty of local wildlife, remind us of the fragility and threats faced by species and their habitats, and convey the importance of protecting nature, not only for wildlife but also for our own mental and physical health. Their stories offer hope on what each of us can do to conserve healthy ecosystems.”
Manoa David was thrilled to be one of the judges, and said “It has been an honour being a judge of this competition. I enjoyed going through the photos and watching the video. It was very encouraging and satisfying to see all the competition entries depicting creativity and dedication to wildlife conservation. I commend all the participants and congratulations to the winners.” See the winning entries below...
The judges loved Hattie’s entry, stating that: “Hattie is focusing on an important issue: how spending time in natures helps our mental health. She has focused on a beautiful swan, and I like the fact that her entry focuses on a single species…..The black and white choice is creative, and the images are well executed, with simplicity. They demonstrate a keen sense of observation and achieves a therapeutic, calming feel.”
Sara said “I am absolutely ecstatic that my entry "Spring Into Life" has been chosen as the winner of the first ever Born Free Youth Filmmaker and Photographer of the Year award, 16 years or under (film) category. I had a wonderful time over the Spring spending time outdoors and having the opportunity to observe Mother Nature first-hand. I love being able to combine my interest in animal conservation and their habitats along with my passion for filmmaking.”
Judges comments included that “Sara’s film is very well executed and edited, with beautiful imagery, music, and a clear focus…. The mix of environmental shots and close ups get us to understand how the ducks and their ducklings navigate their habitat….Excellent use of the drone to give sense of place. Well done Sara!”
The judges loved the choice of insects and specifically butterflies and moths. They said: "He has executed his concept well with sensibility, showing their delicate beauty. I love the diversity of the species represented, the colours, and the backgrounds.
The photos truly convey the magic of butterflies and moths as indicated in the title, and also connect to their habitat. I also love his approach, searching for these butterflies in his local village, which demonstrates his curiosity, sense of observation, and patience.”
The judges were “very impressed with Thea’s film. She has decided to tackle an important issue and has executed her story very clearly, starting with the problem and the solutions. The beautiful and diverse imagery matches the narration well, and I love that Thea gives her point of view and makes the story personal, talking about the farmers she has met and conveying her hope for the future. This is very well written and narrated with emotion and conviction. I also like the fact she is showing us the landscapes as well as the little things like ladybirds, an important message for connectivity and integrated ecosystems.
“No one can do everything but everyone can do something” is a message that will stay with us. Congratulations Thea!”