Photo taken on honeymoon wins monster prize
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Mrs Stewart’s image was among 10 contenders in the competition run by the Inverness Courier in conjunction with Gary Campbell who keeps the official register of sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.
Her photograph, depicting a dark fin-shaped object in the water near Fort Augustus, emerged the clear winner in the Courier’s online poll.
As this year’s winner, Mrs Stewart receives£1500 after sponsor, bookmaker William Hill, increased it from the usual £1000 in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Courier which reported the first modern-day monster sighting in May 1933.
The win could not have come at a better time for Mrs Stewart, of Oldham.
She was recently made redundant from her job as a social housing officer and she will also turn 30 in two weeks.
"It’s amazing," said a delighted Mrs Stewart on being told of her win."It’s really great."
She and her husband Paul, a sales executive, travelled to Loch Ness after getting married in their home town in September.
The couple’s two-year-old son Thomas and four-year-old boxer Jessie were also with them.
On October 2 they were at the pier in Fort Augustus at about 4pm when the sighting occurred.
"I saw something which was really strange," she recalled.
"It looked like a fin but I couldn’t be completely sure so I took a photograph and zoomed in."
But when a boat came out from the Caledonian Canal into the loch, whatever it was quickly disappeared.
"To me, it looked as if it decided to run away from the boat," Mrs Stewart said.
She revealed it was not the first time she had seen something unusual on the loch.
"This was the third time we have been to Loch Ness," she said.
"When we first got together we always wanted to come up here."
During their first trip in August 2014, she saw a fin-like object in the water near Fort Augustus but was unable to photograph it.
Whatever may be lurking in the water, the couple are captivated by the beauty of Loch Ness.
"It is such a mysterious place," she reflected. "It’s amazing."
Mrs Stewart’s father and stepmother moved to the south side of the loch last year and she also nutures dreams of moving to the area one day.
"We absolutely love it here – the scenery, everything," said Mrs Stewart who is returning to the area next month for a camping holiday.
"I will be keeping a lookout in case I spot anything!" she said.
Gary Campbell said the image along with the description of how it suddenlydisappeared madethe entry a worthy winner.
"It is a solid object photographed in Loch Ness and it isn’t clear what is there," he said. "It is too big to be an otter or seal."