Andrew Difford's sand sculptures become the talk of Co Antrim and afar
FROM what began as building a simple sandcastle with his children, Andrew Difford's sand sculptures have become the talk of Co Antrim and afar.
Mr Difford's creations on Waterfoot Beach, near Glenariff, include Noah's Ark, a village, a castle and film characters such as Yoda from Star Wars.
"I literally just stumbled on doing this during lockdown and the summer holidays and it has sort of spiralled since then," he said.
Months on and Mr Difford's sculptures have become a common sight on the Co Antrim beach, with a Facebook page already attracting the attention of around 1,200 people.
"It has really just spiralled from a day on the beach," he said.
"I was playing with the kids in the sea and then I went behind the windbreaker and started to play with the sand. I think the kids were embarrassed it was me in the sand and I had to convince them to help me.
"From there, three days of work and I had created a village and it has just went from there, things have just been mad.
"People coming past stop to see what I've done and have been really impressed, there's been so many lovely comments. Then there's been others who have said they heard about what I was doing and came by just to see what I was making.
"For a few days, I was a Banksy as no-one knew it was me, which was fun."
Mr Difford, who is originally from Essex and now lives in Waterfoot, said he was delighted his work was "lifting the spirits" of people.
"If I can provide a little bit of happiness to people coming by, then that's what it's all about," he said.
"I have suffered from depression and anxiety in the past and doing something like this gives me hope.
"This is lifting the spirits of so many at such a difficult time, if I can give a bit of hope to others, then it is worth it."
And as word has spread about Mr Difford's sandcastle sculptures, requests for certain creations have been made.
Among those to get the special treatment this week was local storyteller Liz Weir, whose niece arranged a 70th birthday message to be created in the sand.
"We literally just stumbled upon Andrew's work when we were at the beach and we were so impressed," said Aurelia Kelly.
"It is such a lovely resource that he is utilising and what he creates is amazing.
"I commissioned him to create a special birthday message for my aunt and she was so surprised when she saw it. She had no idea it would be there and when she walked past it, she was absolutely delighted."