Photo competition will capture the town's important moments

People gathered outside Ottery library to sing Christmas Carols

Carol singing outside the library - Credit: Phyllis Baxter

Phyllis Baxter’s biggest passion was photography. Thanks to that passion we now have a well documented photographic legacy from Ottery, its hidden treasures, its events, its people and above all the way Phyllis captured her love for the town through the lenses of her camera. 

For many years Phyllis also collaborated with the Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the volunteers organising the events of the Late Night Christmas Shopping in town. The highlight of the event for many in Ottery was to see what costume Phyllis would be wearing for the most important evening of the festive season. We still can see her dressed as a Christmas tree which after a few too many visits to the shops and tasting the drinks offered, looked more like a tree gently swaying in the breeze and what prompted a then Councillor to shout “timber” every time he saw her happily going through the town. 

The Phyllis Baxter cup

The Phyllis Baxter cup - Credit: The Phyllis Baxter

These memories of Phyllis and her community spirit gave the members of the action group the idea of hosting a photographic competition with the intention of inspiring others as it had inspired Phyllis through the years she lived in Ottery, to register the interesting sights of this town at this very special time of the year. 

We all know that after Tar Barrels, Ottery gets ready to welcome Christmas and the New Year. The Christmas lights go up; the shops start to decorate their windows; the organisers of the Late Night Christmas Shopping get into gear even promising a Christmas market in 2021; the Church choir practices their songs for the Christmas concert; the Pixie Day Christmas tree goes up in front of the Library; the Panto and the Silver Band rehearse to exhaustion in order to entertain the town from the Institute; the eateries make us forget our diets with their delicious Christmas menus; the Volley customers look forward to the sing-along in front of the pub at midnight on December 31st and the shopkeepers tempt us with their many Christmas offers. All in all a time to simply enjoy ourselves, support our shops, our restaurants, our volunteer organisations, our residents and a great occasion to take hundreds of photos because there will be many opportunities to do so. 

The competition will be a yearly one, covering a different subject each year in order to continue that legacy left by Phyllis and capturing those important moments lived by our town and its residents that has made Ottery a unique place in the South West.

For more details and how to enter, the categories and prizes on offer please either send an email to or collect a submission form from Seasons Tea Room on Silver Street. The competition is open to any 18+ year old resident in the greater Ottery St Mary rural area comprising the EX11 postcode. It will run from November 5 until January 5. For more information please send an email at the above email address or go to our FB page: