It’s taken a while for me to decide on whether I should post this particular blog. As you read on you’ll come to realise why, and hopefully you’ll agree that deciding to share the photo shoot, and this particular story below, was the right decision.
Many of you will know that I volunteer my time and skills for a handful of charities. There’s a page on our website
about them, and they feature in a few our previous blog posts
. Anyone who volunteers their skills for a charity will know how hard it can be to find the time to do so, but they’ll also be able to tell you why it’s so important, where possible, to find the space around work commitments and day to day life, to use your own privilege and skill set for the benefit of others. So when I’m able to spare the time away from editing at my desk, and usually whilst Toby is hard at work in his registrar capacity at the register office, I head out with my cameras in support of a small selection of charities.
It’s easy to forget particularly charities exist, especially smaller scale ones, until you or a loved one need their help, assistance, or a simple pick me up from the services they offer. One such charity I’ve mentioned before, but warrant a reminder of who they are and what they do, is Something To Look Forward To. A charity for people with cancer, and their families, to access a variety of gifts donated by individuals and companies.
One such person that deservedly benefitted from this charity’s services a while back was Holly. When Something To Look Forward To put Holly and I in touch with each other she was in active radiotherapy treatment. We had to wait a couple of months for Holly to feel up to the family shoot I was going to be photographing for her. Then one chilly January day I met Holly, her husband Will, and their little son Arden for a leisurely stroll in the winter sunshine.
I approach charity shoots like these exactly the same as all my other family sessions. Under these circumstances though I am aware that families may not wish to talk about their current situation, and instead use the photo shoot as a lovely distraction and escape. Holly however was keen to share with me how much she appreciated the charities, including Something To Look Forward To, and how much they’d helped and supported her and her family in many different ways.
After the photo shoot Holly and I stayed in touch. We chatted via messages and she kept me updated with various going’s on. I also ended up tagging along to a family function to capture more photos of her loved ones.
Holly helped organise a charity music, arts, and family festival in aid of Something To Look Forward To and Cancer Research. She raised funds to help the charities so that other families could benefit in the same way she and her family has. I also got involved by offering a family shoot to raffle off at the event and help raise more funds.
Holly was keen to assist me in raising awareness of Something To Look Forward To. We planned a blog post together that she’d write, sharing a little of her story, and her personal experience of the charity. I was then to include photos of her photo shoot with me, and share it on our website to spread the word.
Sadly a couple of months ago, before Holly got to write what she wanted to share, she lost her battle with cancer. I was unsure whether to put this post together without her, whether it was somehow insensitive or disrespectful. But in the time I got to know Holly I’m very confident that she would tell me that is a silly thought, especially when she was so keen on helping me find a way to shout about a charity she believed in and directly benefitted from.
I’m very confident that sharing a tiny bit of her story is both what she wanted, and also a way of paying respects to her memory.
I’m aware that the photos I captured of her, and for her, will be forever treasured by her lovely husband, and they will be there for her son as he grows up. You can never have enough photos and memories of the ones you love, and I’m humbly appreciative that I was the person who was trusted to capture those extremely important images for Holly, Will, and Arden.
If you know of someone that could benefit from Something To Look Forward To’s services, or you yourself could offer some form of support to the charity, you can find out further details on their website here
So here’s to Holly, and the memory of an intelligent, funny, and very warm lady. I’d raise a glass but I’m pretty sure Holly would have preferred shots.
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