Recently I have been involved with a local project called the ‘I Love Shrewsbury Project’. The brief was to focus on someone who made a valuable contribution to the community. I really enjoyed doing this little project as I explored more into portraiture photography and I learnt more about my family’s past.
I decided to make the subject of the project my grandfather (Peter Shepherd) and my father (Paul Shepherd). They both have done significant fund-raising for the Poppy Appeal and the British Legion. I remember helping them by handing out poppies as well as counting the money from the donation boxes.
My grandfather served in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry until 1968 as it amalgamated into the 2nd Battalion of the Light Infantry and he served in that until he retired. Once he retired, he dedicated his time into helping to support the Poppy Appeal. My grandfather used to manage and conduct The Halfway House Ladies Choir, he would organise concerts to perform in the Abbey Church, St Chads Church and the Theatre Severn. All of the proceeds would go towards families of soldiers that have fought for our country to help them with either adaptations for their homes or debts or emergency situations.
My grandfather said; “I served 22 years in Her Majesties Army, having left the army I felt that it was right and proper to help my fellow injured comrades. The British Legion is there to help the soldiers and their families with difficulties after they have been discharged through injuries. I served in Malaya, Borneo, Germany, Northern Ireland, Adan and Singapore.”
My father, who served for 23 years in the 1st Battalion of the Light Infantry. After he left the army, he worked in the recruitment office. He was also a big help with the Poppy Appeal, he stood outside of the shopping centres in town as well as the supermarkets. Furthermore, he also helped my grandfather organise the concerts by creating the programmes as well as posters to help promote the concert. I chose to use the Ballygawley Bus Memorial as a location for photographing my father as it is an extremely personal event for him. My father was supposed to be on that bus in Northern Ireland in 1988. However, he was out the night before and missed the morning wake up call and therefore was not on the bus. Unfortunately, eight of his friends had died that day. However, this experience has made him want to help the families of soldiers who have either been injured or have died at war. It is a strange feeling when I look at the memorial as my father could have been one of the victims and he would have never have met my mother and I would’ve never have existed.
I have always looked up to my grandfather and father, for all that they have been through and still having a positive spirit and always willing to help others. They both really inspire me to do the best I can and to help others whenever I can.
Here are some images that I liked but didn’t make the final cut: