TWO Monmouth schoolgirls have combined their passions for art and photography to triumph in a national competition.

Zoe Cripwell, a pupil at Monmouth School for Girls, topped the Year Seven to Nine category in the Geographical Association’s (GA) Physical Geography Photographic awards last week, while fellow pupil, 12-year-old Helen Neascu, was awarded third place in the same category.

Ms Cripwell claimed top spot with her shot of the River Feshie in Cairngorns National Park, and has now been chosen to appear on the front cover of the spring issue for the GA magazine.

Ms Neascu won acclaim for her striking image of Ghajn Tuffieha and Gnejna Bays in Malta.

The competition required pupils to take a photograph of physical geography and to submit a brief description supporting the image, describing the location and physical processes taking place.

Ms Cripwell will receive an Alize windproof jacket and a Longman student atlas as her prizes, while Ms Neascu has won a Paramo beanie hat.

After claiming the winning prize, Ms Cripwell expressed her shock at the achievement.

“I like taking photographs, but I didn’t have any expectations after putting in my entry because I knew it involved students from all over the country,” she said.


“I took the photograph when I was on holiday in Scotland and it’s really cool that it will be on the front cover of the magazine.”

Explaining why Ms Cripwell’s entry was awarded first place, the judges said: “Looking at the photograph you can almost hear the roar of the water.

“The principles of the processes are explained concisely and the wonder is evident, making this a well-deserved first-place winner.”

Ms Neascu was also pleased that her entry won acclaim after she missed out on getting an award last year.

“It’s a lovely surprise and one I am really happy about,” she said.

On Ms Neascu’s entry, the judges added: “There is clear engagement with something spectacular and the final twist embraces physical geography as a friend rather than a foe.”

A delighted Head of Geography at Monmouth School for Girls, Nick Meek, said: "This is excellent news to start the year. It is a wonderful achievement to have two of our Year Eight pupils being recognised in a national competition."

Both girls will also be invited to the GA conference taking place at the University of Surrey in April.