Commando Helicopter Force Sailor Wins Royal Navy Photographic Award

A Royal Navy photographer serving with CHF who took a stunning image of his colleagues on exercise in Norway has won a prestigious photographic award.

PO Julian “Mez” Merrill, 42, took the photograph of the Merlin helicopter hovering in snowy conditions while on a cold-weather training exercise in northern Norway earlier this year.

He put forward the (above) image to the annual Peregrine Trophy awards – and was chosen as the winner of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Air Prize category.

Mez, who joined the Royal Navy in 1987 as a junior seaman operator, transferred to the photographic branch in 2000. He said: “I am absolutely delighted to have won the RN Maritime Air Prize Image award – it means a lot to me to have my work recognised in this way. I have a real passion for photography and working alongside CHF gives me a unique opportunity to take images across the world in unusual locations.”

The annual Peregrine Trophy awards are designed to recognise excellence among both the professional Royal Navy and Royal Marine photographers and amateurs. This year the awards were held at the Royal College of Art in London – with the winners congratulated by the First Sea Lord Adml Sir George Zambellas.

With just ten professional categories, a student award and three amateur classes – the competition is very fierce and is whittled down by an expert panel of judges. These were Matthew Fearn, Picture Editor at the Daily Telegraph, Professor Naren Barfield of the Royal College of Art, Anthony Massey and Kathy Andrews of BBC World Service and Neil Hall, MOD Picture Editor.

According to their judgements, Mez’s image was chosen for its “good composition” and for being a powerful image showing the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in action.

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