Little Essex Soldier’s striking photo is chosen to be auctioned to raise money for the charity that has kept him smiling 10 years after losing his dad

A STRIKE OF LIGHTNING

11-year-old Harley Grout, from St Osyth in Essex, has been chosen as the winner of a photography competition, hosted by national bereaved Forces children’s charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers – a charity that provides him with continued support.

Harley, who lost his dad, Signalman David Grout in May 2010, decided to take part in the competition which was organised by the charity as a way of helping to keep its members engaged during lockdown.

Harley’s photo, “a strike of lightning”, immediately caught the eye of the competition judge, award winning photographer and friend of Scotty’s, Paul Tibbs. His photo was chosen out of 44 entries to win first prize. It will be auctioned online via eBay from Friday 19th June, with the auction closing on Sunday 28th June. Money raised will go to Scotty’s Little Soldiers to support bereaved Forces children, like Harley, up and down the country.

Commenting on his win, Harley said: “I was so surprised when I heard that I’d won, I thought there would be so many more entries that were better than mine, I was over the moon! Being a photographer would be my dream job, I love taking photos of anything really – cars, animals. I’d seen a similar lightning picture before, so when I saw the storm, I thought I would try and recreate it. I took quite a few photos before choosing the one I submitted. I hope it will raise lots of money for Scotty’s.”

Harley was just a toddler when his dad died. David served in the Royal Signals regiment and died following an unprovoked attack 10 years ago last month. Harley’s mum, Kerry, learnt of Scotty’s support a few years ago when she attended the Party at the Palace event at Buckingham Palace in 2017.

Commenting on the charity’s support she said: “Harley and I had raised money for Scotty’s in the past, I knew of them but didn’t at first know that Harley was eligible for the support. It was only when a friend said that I should get in touch that I did. And since then, they have been brilliant, it’s just nice knowing that Harley has that support there when he needs it and can meet and talk to other children who are in a similar situation.”

Since joining Scotty’s Little Soldiers, Harley has benefited from the charity’s support programmes, including the opportunity to meet other children in similar situations.

Harley added: “Scotty’s has been great; they help bring people together who have all experienced the same things which has really helped me. I’ve also made a few friends through the charity who I find easy to talk to because they know what I have been through.”

Scotty’s Little Soldiers was founded by war widow Nikki Scott in 2010 after her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in Afghanistan the previous year, leaving behind two young children. The charity does lots of things to support its members, including providing access to the very best health and wellbeing care, offering outstanding development opportunities through a range of activity and educational grants, and Scotty’s helps put smiles back on those brave faces by organising events, providing respite breaks, posting them birthday and Christmas presents and remembering the anniversary of their parent’s death.

Usually, at this time of year, Scotty’s would be arranging respite breaks for the families, but sadly this isn’t possible at present. In recent weeks, the charity has had to adapt to the current climate and has been using modern technology and arranging exciting virtual events and activities to engage with its members as well as offering an increased level of emotional support to a great number of families who are struggling to cope with added pressures.

The photography competition is just one way the charity is engaging with its members during lockdown. The competition was broken down in to three categories, with one winner from each category and an overall winner, which was Harley. The winner of the nature category was Emily Reynolds age 9, the winner of the happiness category was Ewan Robbins age 15, and the winner of the portrait category was Isabelle Bovington age 4. Each winner received their photo framed.

Nikki said: “It was great to see so many members get involved in the photography competition. I know for Paul it was difficult for him to chose an overall winner, but Harley’s photo really did stand out. The way he captured the strike of lightning was just incredible and he is a well-deserved winner. The auction of Harley’s photo starts on Friday and I’m hoping that we get lots of bids for it. The last few months have been incredibly difficult for everyone, particularly our members, who have already, at such a young age, gone through so much. All the money raised from the auction will help us continue to deliver integral support to these children when they need it the most.”

To take part in the auction visit https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/153975572465

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