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Anna’s nature photo wins Joyce first prize

Tongue primary kids take top spot in individual and group competition in memory of top teacher

Tongue Primary School are the overall winners in this year’s Alan Joyce Young Environmentalist Competition. First organised by Strathnaver Museum and Caithness and Sutherland Countryside Rangers in 2012 the competition encourages young people from Primary 4 to 7 to demonstrate their awareness of the natural world around them.

Strathnaver Museum launched the competition in memory of former biology teacher Alan Joyce who taught at Golspie and Farr High Schools between 1961 and 1988. In 1969 he supervised a winning team of pupils from Golspie High School to the finals of the BBC Young Scientist of the Year competition.

Alan’s knowledge was recognised by all and with expertise in Freshwater biology he devised some interesting projects for his pupils. Alan’s engaging approach to learning can be seen as the forerunner for today’s Curriculum for Excellence, that is, learning through experience.

Even in retirement Alan continued to share his expertise of the local natural environment with visits to schools from Achfary to Farr inspiring a new generation of youngsters. He continued to engage youngsters in their studies, in a very practical manner, until shortly before his death at his home in Melness, in 2007.

This year the competition took the form of a photography contest organised by Strathnaver Museum and the Flows to the Future project team which explored the central theme of ‘peatlands’. A total of 27 high quality entries were received from four schools across Caithness and Sutherland. As part of the project six schools also took part in outdoor learning activities at local peatland sites delivered by the Flow to the Future project team.

Frances Gunn, Director of the Strathnaver Museum said: “We are delighted to be working with the Flows to the Future project team to deliver the Alan Joyce Young Environmentalist Competition 2015. Alan was an inspiring and much respected teacher in Sutherland and through his example we aim to bring his enthusiasm for the subject to a new generation of our young people.”

An independent judging panel, including Alan’s widow Irene Joyce, chose the winners. The competition trophy went to Anna Magee (P7), Tongue Primary School and the runners-up were Kaigha van Voornveld, (P4), Farr Primary School and Logan Young (P5), Tongue Primary School.

As part of the competition schools also competed for involvement in the Flow Country film which is currently in production. Based on the amount of entries, overall quality and diversity, the judging panel chose Tongue Primary as the winning school. They will be visited by a film crew from Maramedia, who also created the Ewan McGregor-narrated film Hebrides – Islands on the Edge, in September.

The entries will form part of a touring exhibition which can currently be seen in Strathnaver Museum and will also be visiting other venues across Caithness and Sutherland over the course of the summer.