A lot of my photography work is confidential prior to launch which means I am unable to share some projects with you. However, Just Get Active has just launched and I would like to tell you all about it.
Just Get Active (JGA) is a wonderful initiative set up by Just, a large financial services company based in Reigate Surrey. The initiatives’ aim is to encourage walking sports in the over 50’s, to get them engaged in low impact physical activity through team sport such as football, rugby, basketball and cricket. John Inverdale from BBC Sports is JGA’s leading ambassador and, as you will see, been very active himself in supporting the project.
We have spent the past 6 months interviewing, videoing, photographing and playing walking sports. Up and down the country we have met many inspirational people, fun characters and great community leaders. And at the end of it all (or is that the end of the beginning) we are rewarded with the uplifting experiences and satisfaction that this kind of projects brings.
I began the photographic work in mid January starting with a full day at Guilford in Surrey covering basketball, football and netball. We completed the day in a freezing cold outdoor hockey club with more than 5o members. They were of all ages and instead of watching mid January soap opera they were wrapped up knocking a hard plastic yellow ball around with a wooden stick. The eldest was 72 years old.
Since then I have covered football and cricket at Solihull, rowing at Nottingham, cricket at Barnsley, pickleball in Harrogate and many more. The eldest participant I met this year is an 82 year old gentleman playing pickleball in Harrogate.
The Just Get Active sports themselves cover most that you can think of. Rugby, table tennis, rambling, badminton, football, basketball, hockey all come under the walking sports banner. With both fitness and safety at the centre of all activities, walking is a must. Running is not allowed and in some sports penalised.
I have met cancer survivors, bereaved partners, sons supporting mums, heart patients and war veterans. I have also met retired couples, fun loving octogenarians and fitness fanatics. They are from all walks of life, backgrounds and experiences and everybody has their own unique story. Furthermore, the most prevalent aspect of all our encounters has been the positive feeling of togetherness, and mutual support for each other.
Team sports were something that we all played at school and somehow discontinue as we get older. This fantastic initiative of Just Get Active gives us the opportunity to feel young again, stay physically active and give us the best chances in life to stay happy, enjoy each other and live long and well.
The Taster Day at Warwick University on September 14th was the official launched in the Birmingham area. It is hoped that the scheme will extend nationally soon over the coming months.
Meeting so many different characters with so many different stories to tell is a fantastic way for me to earn a living. I am so grateful for some of the projects that I work on because they are so uplifting and enjoyable. As with all my work, I try to engage with as many participants as I can in the hope that I can add something to their day. It also helps me get the best shots and becoming ‘one of them’ is my aim.
We all need to stay active and keep as fit as we can. Walking sport might not appeal to you now but just imagine in ten, twenty or thirty years time. Getting out into the cold, having a few laughs and feeling fit and refreshed may be just what you will need.
This is an area I find myself working in more and more. I have come to recognise that apart from my commercial work, my business is leaning more and more towards good causes, third sector and community responsible projects. Just have clearly recognised that as a financial services organisation community responsibility projects are becoming part of their role. If business helps society then society will help business.
The entire Just Get Active team have been such a pleasure to work alongside. John Inverdale is the consummate professional and takes charge of all the events. Those who allow us into their clubs have been magnificent and welcoming. The production team and just marketing have been professional to the highest level and the participants have been both inspiring and entertaining. Projects like this are all about team and Just Get Active has been a great joy to work on.
So far I have covered sixteen events in 10 locations and processed over 10,000 images. Just have been given 1200 images and will use them for web, social media and press.
Take a look at the website here to find out more.