Celebrities and designers help raise funds for the Find Your Feet charity

Being a photographer is a great job, as you get to meet some amazing people and touch peoples’ lives by capturing memories that last forever. Its also a very important tool that can be used to document, comment on and fight social injustice and its nice to be able to give something back.

 

We Are What We Wear charity fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear charity fashion show March 2011

 

Find Your Feet charity display

Find Your Feet charity display

One  such instant was the We Are What We Wear charity fashion show that I was involved with in March 2011. One of my clients Vaishali Shah of Creative ID and Ananya Cards, asked me if I would be interested in covering the charity fashion show organised by the Find Your Feet charity, in celebration of their 50th Anniversary. All monies raised would go to the charity, to help them further their work.

We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear March 2011

Find Your Feet are a charity that works in rural areas to help support people and help them free themselves from poverty, through listening and responding to the varying needs of the different communities that they work with. The charity was founded in 1960 by Carol Martin and has evolved from being an organisation that provides humanitarian aid, to being one that supports long-term rural development projects and now focuses on India and Malawi. Despite now being a major economic growth area, the gap between the rich and poor in India is vast, a difference I saw myself when I visited the country in 2004. Malawi is one of the world’s least developed nations and relies heavily on aid to help with its development challenges.

The event was held in the Mint Leaf Restaurant Bar in the Haymarket, London and the venue was an ideal place to hold a fashion show. Not only was there a stage area for the main part of the fashion show and the dance event, there were walkways all around the restaurant which allowed the models to showcase the outfit to all the diners.

Dhriv Baker and DJ Nihal arrive at the We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

Dhriv Baker and DJ Nihal arrive at the We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

Dhruv Baker, MasterChef winner 2010

Dhruv Baker, MasterChef winner 2010

Honey Kalaria and Mint Leaf restaurant owner Dinu Bhattessa

Honey Kalaria and Mint Leaf restaurant owner Dinu Bhattessa

It was a star studded evening and was hosted by DJ Nihal from Radio 1′s Asian Network Show. Other guests included past MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker and Honey Kalaria, who runs her own Bollywood Dance Academy , “Britain’s top Modern Indian Dance expert” The Sun. Some of Honey’s young dancers also had hearts pumping and feet tapping with a fabulous, energetic Bollywood inspired repertoire.

Honey Kalaria's dancers rehearse before the show

Honey Kalaria's dancers rehearse before the show

Honey Kalaria's dancers

Honey Kalaria's dancers

Honey Kalaria's dancers

Honey Kalaria's dancers

Providing fun interludes throughout the evening magician Bharat Patel surprised and intrigued people with spell binding tricks.

Magician Bharat Patel spell binds people with his magic

Magician Bharat Patel spell binds people with his magic

Magician Bharat Patel spell binds people with his magic

Magician Bharat Patel spell binds people with his magic

The designers produced an exciting, varied and unusual array of outfits, which utilised all sorts of fabrics, including recycled materials and were created with environmental and ethical sourcing concerns paramount in the concept. Backstage was a cacophony of noise and colour, as models, make up artists and hairdressers raced to get ready for their entrance onto the catwalk.

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

Behind the scenes We Are What We Wear March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

We Are What We Wear fashion show March 2011

After the fashion show, there was a charity auction hosted by Charley Speed, who is a model and judge on Britain’s Next Top Model and everyone had great fun bidding for the items and Charley even sported one of the auction lots, a fantastic handbag made of drink can ring pulls :-) .

Charley Speed hosts the auction at We Are What We Wear March 2011

Charley Speed hosts the auction at We Are What We Wear March 2011

Charley Speed hosts the auction at We Are What We Wear March 2011

Charley Speed hosts the auction at We Are What We Wear March 2011

The evening was a fabulous celebration of the work of the charity and raised the amazing total of £10,000 to help the charity continue its vital work helping the world’s poor. If you would like to help the charity with its work, donations can be made online on the charity’s website.

To check out more of my work please visit Iconic Creative Design and Photography.

All images are © Nicola Gaughan Iconic Creative 2011. Please contact me if you would like to use any images.

Remembering the Few – Lest We Forget

Many of you may know that I’ve been investigating my uncle’s RAF career over the last year and a half, and its been an emotional rollercoaster to be honest, which I didn’t expect and has made me realise just how much we owe to those that fought during World War 2. We owe them our freedom, which many of us take for granted.

My uncle in his Spitfire which he flew before transferring to Bomber Command

My uncle in his Spitfire which he flew before transferring to Bomber Command

My uncle was an RAF bomber pilot, enlisting into the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1940 at the tender age of 18. After passing through the rigorous training system he gained his Wings in April 1941 and joined 57 Squadron, flying night bombing raids in a series of Vickers Wellingtons (fondly known as Wimpys or Flying Cigars).

Having done a lot of investigation at The National Archives at Kew, I was able to find all the raids that he took part in and sadly it was a very short list: just 12 missions.

On the night of 8 April 1942 he and his crewmates took off from RAF Feltwell bound for Hamburg. They never returned and all 6 were Killed in action and with No Known Grave. He was just 20 years old, the youngest of the crew, none of whom were aged over 28.

As part of my research I’ve been in contact with the Stichting Missing Airmen Foundation in Holland. They trace the families of crew who crashed in the Friesland area of the country. Having reviewed all the records, I’ve found I have to agree with the general consensus that my uncle’s plane crashed in the North Sea, just off the coast of Holland and the Foundation have been helping with my research as a result.

Once all the families (or as many as possible) are traced, the Foundation likes to erect a Memorial to the Crew and hold a ceremony where all the families can finally have some closure. I was honoured last summer to be invited to such a ceremony for the crew of Wellington R1397 (me in the pink raincoat and camera).

Following are some of the photos I took of the day:

 

Military attache Peter Lambourn talks to the head of the Dutch Airforce Recovery Dept

Military attache Peter Lambourn talks to the head of the Dutch Airforce Recovery Dept

 

Presentation in Boazum church about the crew and the search for the crashsite

Presentation in Boazum church about the crew and the search for the crashsite

 

Leaving Boazum church on the way to the crashsite

Leaving Boazum church on the way to the crashsite

New Zeland Ambassador for the Hague (one of the crew came from NZ) with Military Attached Peter Lambourn

New Zeland Ambassador for the Hague (one of the crew came from NZ) with Military Attached Peter Lambourn

Children from the village who have helped with the Memorial, pay their respects

Children from the village who have helped with the Memorial, pay their respects

Peter Lambourn lays his wreath next to that of the New Zealand Ambassador

Peter Lambourn lays his wreath next to that of the New Zealand Ambassador

Other wreathes including one from the Foundation

Other wreathes including one from the Foundation

The Memorial erected by the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation

The Memorial erected by the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation

Foundation members on the right, with some of the family members on the left

Foundation members on the right, with some of the family members on the left

Over 55,000 RAF men and women made the ultimate sacrifice during the War, with many of those having no known crashsite, and therefore with no possibilty for a grave and for closure for the families involved. Over the last few years there has been a public campaign to raise money to erect a memorial to all those, including those who died, in Bomber Command. After much toing and froing, negotiations and so on, work has finally started on the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, with the Foundation Stone being laid on 4 May 2011.

All seemed well, or is it? The Government policy to try and reduce the deficit, by swaging cuts and so on has impacted on the Memorial. with a change in the law possibly leaving the Memorial with a £250k VAT bill! Disgraceful!! These men and women gave their youth and in the case of 55,000 men and women, their lives. There has never been any recognition in the form of a medal for members of Bomber Command, the only part of the Armed Forces not to receive one. Is the Goverment somehow embarrassed by Bomber Command? Without the efforts of Bomber Command, the war would have lasted far longer and thousands more people would have died. Even if they are embarrassed, its time to swallow their pride and to Honour and Thank these men and women, before its too late. Many of them are now in their 80s and 90s and they deserve to have recognition before the last of them passes away. Surely the least the Government can do is pay the debt we owe those men and women, and drop this VAT.

Disgusted, I wrote to my MP Virenda Sharma. He took up my case with the Treasury. Here is his comment after he received the reply from Mr Osborne’s department.

     As you will see, Mr Gauke sets out the Government’s logic in charging VAT on war memorials. However, this seems to completely miss the point. Mr Gauke discusses ‘luxury’ items and offering reliefs for food and other ‘essential’ items, but this should not be an issue of logical reasoning and financial facts and figures. Ultimately, if individuals want to erect a monument to honour the war dead, in keeping with planning restrictions and the wishes of others, it is absurd that the Government should begin to consider whether this is ‘worthwhile’ or not. Amidst talk of the ‘big society’, this is the sort of community activity that should be encouraged. While bankers continue to be paid astronomical bonuses, and companies manage to sustain tax dodging to the tune of billions of pounds, when a community wants to mark those who gave their lives in war for us, this is subject to strict tax regulation.

    Mr Gauke talks of their ‘exceptional fiscal challenge’, and no one can deny the need to tackle the government’s budget deficit. However, it seems that consistently those who least deserve it are losing out, with cuts that go too far and too fast. Charging VAT on war memorials is a clear demonstration of how fast the Government are making cuts, with little regard to the long term impact, and the effect on individuals’ confidence.

    I am sorry this was perhaps not the response you were hoping for. Please be assured of my support for VAT relief on this and other war memorials, which would cost the Government little and show a clear demonstration of support for our forces. However, the Treasury’s response is definite, and I am afraid there will be little manoeuvre. However, please feel free to contact me further on this or any other issue.

And finally the response from the Treasury:

Treasury - VAT memorials letter

Treasury - VAT memorials letter

It seems this Government has little respect for the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces and for those that wanted to show their gratitude to those that gave everything, for our freedom.

A proud Niece looking for justice through her photography. In Memory of my Uncle and the crew of Wellington x3757.

Lest We Forgot

 

EDIT  10th February 2012.

Good news! It seems People Power has had an effect and David Cameron has stepped in and given the Bomber Command Memorial Fund a grant which after all the figures are totted up, will rule out the VAT bill. Hurrah! About time too. Check out the Telegraph’s piece yesterday about it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/rafbombercommand/9070661/1m-lifeline-for-Bomber-Command-memorial.html

 

 

Lembit Opik (MP) at Liberal Party HQ

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and are looking forward to a fabulous New Year. 2011 has been an amazing year with all sorts of photographic opportunities for me, and I’m positive there are even better things to come. Exciting! I already have some interesting shoots lined up for 2012, but more of that later.

Bart Ricketts

Bart Ricketts

In May I was asked to cover a launch party at Liberal Party HQ in central London, with Councillor Bart Ricketts and Lembit Opik (MP). Never having had that much to do with ‘Politics’ before, apart from when I visit the Polling Station, I thought it would be an interesting experience.

Liberal party launch event May 2011

Liberal party launch event May 2011

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

It was a lovely spring evening and the event was held out on the Terrace. Nibbles and drinks were provided and soon the conversation was flowing. I was able to get lots of relaxed and informal images of people enjoying themselves.

Liberal party launch event May 2011

Liberal party launch event May 2011

I even briefly met one of my Facebook contacts, cartoonist Simon Ellinas. Lembit was charming and obviously used to having the ‘paparazzi’ around, being a politician.

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

Lembit Opik MP at Liberal party launch event May 2011

Having heard so much negative stuff in the press about politicians, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice everyone was.

Liberal party launch event May 2011

Liberal party launch event May 2011

All images © Nicola Gaughan Iconic Creative 2011. All Rights Reserved. www.iconiccreative.co.uk.