A Co Down man has combined his passion for photography and farming to create a calendar in aid of Air Ambulance NI.
Having been furloughed from his job as an automatic greaser technician during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was fresh air and photography that helped Steven Evans (30) get through the long days of lockdown.
An amateur photographer for around five years, the Kirkistown man had invested in some new camera equipment earlier this year without knowing just how much it was going to be used, never mind creating a calendar.
"At the end of April, I was stuck in lockdown and on furlough so I decided to get some fresh air in the fields and take my camera with me," Steven explained.
With a lifelong interest in agriculture that has led to a career working for hydraulics company Hi-Power where he spends a lot of time around farm machinery, Steven knew exactly where and when agricultural contractors would be 'doing the grass'.
"I followed the machinery working through the fields and walked for miles - literally miles," he said.
"In May, there was an incident in the Ards Peninsula when a young lad was badly injured in a tractor accident. They got him into a road ambulance but they feared the worst so the Air Ambulance met them in Greyabbey.
"The helicopter landed at the tennis courts in the village and the team were able to help him and then fly him on to hospital, which no doubt saved his life.
"It wasn't long after this that I got chatting with one of the contractors I'd been photographing, and the idea of a calendar showcasing my images of them working, soon gave me a focus."
Working around farms and machinery, Steven knows only too well the dangers faced by rural communities and how the Air Ambulance has been the difference between life and death on more than one occasion.
The charity aims to raise £2m each year to sustain the service with public donations being crucial but fundraising has been severely hit by Covid-19.
"It's a charity that has a big following, especially from those in rural areas, so this calendar is a fitting tribute to the farming community and Air Ambulance NI. It's also a chance to raise some vital funding for such a valuable resource. It might help to make a difference and help to keep it in the air," Steven said.
He added: "The agricultural contractors who feature in the calendar have pledged to come together and cover the costs of printing, meaning that every penny given from the sale of the calendar will be going directly, in full, to Air Ambulance NI."
The 2021 calendar will be available via Steven's Facebook page SE Photography and farm and machinery shops for £10.