INSPIRED by the landscape around their Weardale home, a retired couple turned their photography hobby into a full-time business.

Valerie and Colin Ward take photographs of Weardale beauty spots and turn them into calendars and postcards to sell to visitors.

They learned to create perfect pictures on a computer course in digital imaging at Wolsingham School and Community College.

Mrs Ward, who recently retired as an ambulance service executive director, said their hobby had taken over their lives.

She said: "It is a complete departure from the lifestyle we had when we were working full-time.

The ten-week course is supported by the Learning and Skills Council County Durham and has attracted a wide range of students. Many are retired and the oldest is 82.

Mrs Craig said: "We are really impressed at the professionalism of the course and the tutors. We had the programme at home, but have learned so much more about how it works in just a few weeks."

Austin McNamara, executive director at the Learning and Skills Council County Durham, said: "Valerie and Colin are a brilliant example of how lifelong learning can give people a new direction after retirement.

"The courses at Wolsingham School are about more than individual learning. They are helping keep community spirit alive."

The college is a focal point for Weardale's 6,000 residents, many of whom attended the school as children.

Courses are funded by Co-Financing, a European Social Fund initiative, and offer a range of activities. For details telephone (01388) 527302