Friday of last week I made the 4 hour drive down to Cornwall to meet and photograph the one and only Harry Billinge MBE...
I'd been wanting to meet Harry for quite some time so when the opportunity arose I grasped it with both hands; an opportunity I hasten to add that simply would not have been possible without the incredible (ongoing) support of my friend Rob Aitchison (author of The Longest Day poem and close friend of Harry's)
Harry Billinge reciting 'The Longest Day' by Rob Aitchison
Harry and Rob
Setting my alarm for 3am, once ready to go I set off just after 4am and made my way down to Cornwall stopping en route to meet up with the wonderful Danny Greeno (CEO of the Veterans Charity) and friend, who was coming along to help me out and to also meet up with Harry to see if there was anything he needed in the way of help / support. After a hearty fry up at the Proper Ansom Café in Launceston we made our way to Harry's home address in St Austell.
Harry on BBC Breakfast with Naga Munchetty
From the moment we arrived at Harry's it was smiles and laughter all around although knowing how in demand Harry is with the TV and Press, and how tired it must be making him (as it would anyone else) it was so incredibly important that his experience of being photographed by me was a positive one, and this starts off by leaving all the kit in the car and first off just taking the time to sit, chat and slow down over a cup of tea.
Eventually though I set up in the front room and here's the results...
"Just tell me where you want me old boy; it's no trouble" ~ Harry Billinge
Couldn't resist a close up portrait; eyes say so much
So happy that Sheila (Harry's Wife) was willing to be photographed too. At one point everyone literally did laugh out loud when Danny said "Behind every man there's a woman rolling her eyes" :)
"When Harry met Danny"
Generally I'm not one for having my picture taken with a Veteran that I meet and photograph but Danny convinced me to get in front of the camera and if I'm honest, I'm really glad he did...this one will be going on my office wall for sure.
A truly fantastic day that I'll never forget. Harry and Sheila were such a delight to spend time with and when saying goodbye, to get a kiss from both was very special.
Next week I'll be heading back to Cornwall to hand deliver Harry's portraits, all mounted and boxed, and I simply cannot wait.