MEMBERS of thriving local amateur art group dodged the recent wet weather to hold their annual competition at an historic Durham landmark.

The grounds of Ushaw, near Durham, played host to the talents of the Deerness Art Group, who were competing for the Bob Miller award, presented in honour of a previous, and much-loved, chairman.

The challenge – which followed a successful exhibition at Ushaw of the group’s work - was to complete a picture of any element of the beautiful buildings or gardens, in four hours.

The winner, 84-year-old Norma Hickey, was presented with her stained-glass prize by Anna Lawson, BA Hons Fine Art, who described it as ‘Turner-esque’.

Anna, who has an office at Ushaw where she is archiving her father’s work, is the daughter of internationally renowned North-East sculptor, Fenwick Lawson, much of whose pieces are housed and exhibited by Ushaw.

About her achievement, Norma said: “I’m so surprised to win. It’s a beautiful award and I have a light that will sit behind it and let the colours shine out.

“I’ve always loved painting, since I was a little girl, and would have liked to be an art teacher, but we were just an ordinary, working-class family and we couldn’t afford it.”

Norma went to work in an office, but, later, partially achieved her dream when she trained as a primary school teacher after she had her own family.

“I was so happy as a teacher,” she said. “I used to get all the naughty boys to look after, but I would praise them and make them feel proud of themselves and give them a sense of achievement.”

Norma joined the Deerness Art Group about 40 years ago and, apart from returning to her love of art, enjoys socialising with the other members.

“We are a group of such different people, with our own different talents, and everyone is so welcoming and friendly.”

The other members competing for the award were: current chairperson, Margaret Weavill; Angela Greenwell; Jill Marshall; Exhibition Secretary and Organisor, Deryck Simpson; Malcolm Coils; Paoi Wilmer; Charlie Wesencraft and Mick Robinson.