I was lucky enough to have an unforgettable photography experience yesterday, as I took photos for the fantastic charity Epic Partners during one of HRH Prince Harry’s regular visits to Nottingham to see their work which he helps to support through The Royal Foundation.
The day started late afternoon at Huntingdon Academy Primary School in St.Anns. This is a disadvantaged area of Nottingham and such is a key focus for the work of the charity which provides after-school clubs for the children to focus their minds on fun, positive tasks to keep them busy and teach them some valuable and useful skills in the process. After a meeting with some head teachers from the school and it’s partner schools, Prince Harry visited 3 different after-school activities on offer. First, a gardening clubs featuring a visit to a fantastic greenhouse made entirely from old 2 litre plastic bottles. Next up was a bicycle maintenance and repair class, with the children learning how to repair and replace tyres and wheels, followed by a quick chat at the end of a game of football.
Prince Harry and his team then moved inside for another meeting with the board of the school before moving in to meet the cast and crew of Guillemot - a short film which has been entirely created by the young people of St Anns with support from the fantastic Full Effect which aims to identify and support children and young people from becoming involved in youth violence and crime through a combination of early intervention, mentorship, and training.
Focus then shifted to Cineworld in Nottingham City Centre, where the world premiere of Guillemot was to take place. After hearing some fantastic local talent perform which had emerged and been nurtured at Full Effect everyone settled down to watch the film, which was a hard-hitting story dealing with issues that many of the young people of St Anns unfortunately have to cope with as everyday parts of their existence. Before the film, the audience had heard from Dominic West (who played cult anti-hero Jimmy McNulty in HBO’s hit series The Wire) about how impressed he was with the high standard of acting he had seen from the cast, including some who were trying it for the first time. High expectations had been set, but the crowd weren’t disappointed in the slightest as we followed the bittersweet story of young romance between the excellent lead characters portrayed so well by Tylar Slaney and Micaiah Jackson. After taking part in a quickfire and entertaining Q&A with the cast, Prince Harry made his way out, graciously stopping to pose for photos and chat to the crowd on the way out.
Massive thanks to Helen Davis from Epic for the opportunity to photograph for the charity, and to our mutual friend Cathy Mansell for the introduction that made it possible. It was a real honour so see Prince Harry in action – a gracious, patient and entertaining young man – but the past, present and continued efforts of all the volunteers, mentors (in particular the inspirational Trevor Rose) and charities are truly humbling to see up close, especially when you can see the real positive effect it is having on the lives of young people that could so easily have gone down different paths.
I heartily recommend taking some time out to watch the film these youngsters have produced, I’ve linked it below. Seeing the world of St Anns through the eyes of it’s residents can really shift perspectives and preconceptions, it certainly did mine.