Jamie Johnson at Meadow Lane

Jamie Johnson at Meadow Lane

Jamie Johnson is back! My three boys love watching the tv series so it was an extra bonus to be asked by Notts County to capture them filming at Meadow Lane (aka the Hawksworth United home ground) last year. Catch the latest series here on the BBC iPlayer.  

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The Wordsmith

The Wordsmith

Rony Robinson is a prolific writer and BBC radio presenter. He has written over 100 plays, numerous books and he is one of the BBC’s longest serving presenters. As we chatted through the idea of this article it became apparent that I couldn’t limit Rony to being defined as a writer or as a presenter but rather he is both and the common theme is his love of words and language. For me though, what shone through most was Rony’s generosity of spirit, humility, engaging nature and genuine warmth towards people. Great thought is given to the words he uses – whether it’s for his radio show (presenting daily on BBC Radio Sheffield), his writing or as witnessed in my case, choosing how to answer the questions below. In my attempt to capture who he is I shan’t be able to do full justice to him here but hopefully you can…

The Collector

The Collector

I was sat having a coffee with my wife in town when John passed by outside the window with his familiar green wig and money raising pram. She informed me that “he is absolutely amazing”. I nipped out and asked if I could photograph and interview him for this blog. He graciously agreed. On meeting up with him a couple of weeks later there are a few things that strike me about him. What he is achieving is exceptional – raising such a large sum of money from everyday donations of the people he meets whilst walking the streets. What also strikes me is his incredible warmth, good humour and gratitude. Nearly every donation was greeted with a genuine hearty “thank you”, a handshake and then often followed up with some banter (“keep taking those pills”) or asking how they are doing. Most striking of all is the relationship, kindness…

The Pilot

The Pilot

“Tank” Murray is a Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter pilot. On a daily basis he and three other guys from his squadron are ready to fly out at 15 minutes notice to offer search and rescue. When you sit through the safety briefing and when you hear their stories you realise just how much danger they are willing to put themselves through to be able to rescue people and save lives. But at the same time they remain humble and very down to earth about what they do. Really inspiring. Here’s Tank’s story of following his passion. What’s your story of getting into being a pilot? I wanted to be a vet or a doctor but I didn’t think I was clever enough. I applied to the Royal Navy and I got in – it was a shock! Only about one person out of 2000 applicants get in. And…

The Gardener

The Gardener

Ashburnham is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I know. For me (and for many others) it’s a sanctuary like no other place. Having visited in August this year I happened to ask the chief gardener (who was walking past where I sat one morning) if he would consider letting me take his portrait and ask him the brief questions below. He kindly agreed. It was an inspiring hour (that was all too short as far as I was concerned) and a privilege to talk to someone so thoughtful, wise, insightful, well read, creative, interesting and warm. What’s your story of getting into gardening? I left school at 14 and my Grandfather paid the fees for me to do an apprenticeship. The Grandfather was often all powerful in the family then! But I was glad to get out of school so I was happy. It was not long…

The Surfer

The Surfer

For a few fleeting moments time ceases to exist, you are flying, at one with the ocean and feeling something akin to pure joy! That’s my experience of surfing (even speaking as a pretty poor surfer). The story below is about Lyndon Wake who is a pro surfer based in North Devon and who also runs a surf school. Having first bumped into Lyndon last year at Baggy Lodge café (as a family trying to escape the wind and the rain) we took the chance to sign up for lessons – both myself and my boys. It was so refreshing to learn and to see my boys learn from someone who was so enthusiastic, knowledgeable, inspiring and encouraging. It’s how it should be when it comes to any learning – but surely no “subject” more so than surfing! A completely different experience to any other surf school I have tried in…

The Swimmer

The Swimmer

In August 1875 Captain Matthew Webb dived off the pier in Dover and swam to Calais. Totalling 39 miles (because of tidal fluctuations), numerous jellyfish stings and drinking a couple of shots of brandy on the way “for warmth”, he was the first man to swim the English Channel. I love this story – partly because I am distantly related to Captain Webb, partly because I love swimming (although I should hasten to add, no talent was passed on) and partly because it is a great adventure story against all the odds. Fast forward 140 years and Alistair Beattie is going to attempt to make the crossing in September this year! 21 miles of relentless open water swimming (but more like 30 because of the strong tidal currents) – no wet suit, schools of jellyfish and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. He’s doing it to raise…

The Chef

The Chef

I first met Vito when he took over the sponsorship of a local football team I played for. A couple of years into the sponsorship Vito hosted a trip for our team to visit Bella, his home town – a couple of hours East from Naples. There were a number of highlights – playing against Vito’s home team in the most sublime location – taking on a Seria C team (I want to add that we beat them too but that wouldn’t be true!) – and mistakenly being taken for a professional English team. The thing I remember most though was the incredibly genuine, warm and generous hospitality offered by Vito and his friends and family. This hospitality is evident on a visit to his restaurant in Walkley. It’s also rated as one of the top ten restaurants in Sheffield. Here is a glimpse of his story…. What’s your story of getting…

Royal Maundy at Sheffield Cathedral

Royal Maundy at Sheffield Cathedral

I had the great privilege of being asked by Sheffield Cathedral to be their official photographer for the visit of the Queen today. The distribution of the Maundy money goes back to 1210 and actually started in Yorkshire. From a photographer’s perspective it was very exciting to get an intimate view of the proceedings. At other times I was led by palace officials a long way away from the action so as to be as unobtrusive as possible. Totally reasonable but also a feeling of being so close but so far at times. I loved documenting the occasion and trying to capture the day as it unfolded. There was so much going on – choirs warming up, recipients arriving to be seated (an hour before the queen arrived), church clergy preparing, the Yeoman of the Guard moving to position, the crowd gathering in anticipation outside – I love photography like…