Moving portrait of elderly nursing home resident wins Little Hearts Photography Competition

June 3, 2016

© Andy Coupe

Andy Coupe from Chesterfield, Derbyshire triumphed in the Little Hearts Photography Competition, organised by humanitarian charity Muntada Aid.

Entrants were challenged to submit images on the subject ‘An Act of Kindness’.

Andy, 38, explained that the woman in his photo was unable to move from her bed without assistance.

‘None of the staff know her name, and like most of the residents, she never receives visitors or has contact with the outside world.’

He captured the image using a Voigtländer Bessa III, on Ilford XP2 film.

‘I took the picture during my fifth visit to Belarus in the summer of 2015, and I think it captures the relationship that has [been] built between the elderly resident and the much younger charity worker, who represents the new generation of Belarusians starting to drive changes within the country.’

British and local volunteers provide medical and social care at the home, which is located around 50 miles from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

Andy, who used to manage services for people with learning disabilities in the UK – and now works as a supervisor in the transport industry – added: ‘[The home] is hidden away in the woods about ten miles from the nearest town, and to reach it you have to drive down an unsurfaced track and past several signs warning that the area is still heavily contaminated with radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.’

He said the charity worker is employed by a Belarusian charity which campaigns for better treatment of the people who live in the country’s ‘many hidden institutions’.

Andy, who uses digital and film, says he has been a keen photographer since he was a teenager.

As winner of the competition, he will accompany award-winning press photographer Owen Humphreys to a location in Africa or Asia to photograph the Little Hearts Project for the charity.

The Little Hearts Project provides free lifesaving cardiac surgery for children with congenital heart defects and coming from underprivileged families in developing countries.

The competition was open to people aged 18 years and over living in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland.

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