For many years I’ve been a supporter of the work that Prostate Cancer UK does supporting men with the prolific cancer problem across the UK. The work they do is absolutely fantastic and to be asked to shoot one of their key events of the year, the Jeff Stelling March, was absolutely fantastic.
Jeff Stelling, known to most football fans due to his work for many, many years on Sky Sports and his amazing memory recall for footballers in the seventh tier of Norwegian football and any other league around the world for that matter. For the last five or six years he’s been organising a march - Jeff’s March - that completes four walking marathons in four days. This year his march covered all the way from Newcastle through to Sunderland via Durham, which was the route that I did, but also in Liverpool, Manchester and down in London.
The march itself is fronted by Jeff and some fantastic pacers and a support team from Prostate Cancer UK along with around 100 local people - not just gentlemen - but also ladies who are there raising money and supporting Prostate Cancer UK to raise both awareness and vital funds for care and research.
The walk itself started at St James’ Park where everybody piled into bacon sandwiches and a chat from Jeff and the Chief Exec of Prostate Cancer UK, where they got to stand in the stadium, appreciate the 52,000 seats around them and really soak in the atmosphere. From there they walked through Newcastle city centre down past the Angel of the North where they had a nice congregation in front of the Angel and where they were interviewed by ITV and various other TV channels. They were joined by Chris Kamara, Jeff’s ever-willing sidekick on Sky Sports and the laughs that were had on the first part of the journey were just absolutely fantastic and everybody had a good joke and a laugh with some of Chris Kamara’s stories. It was absolutely fantastic.
So myself and Karl, my assistant, were on location all the way from the first stint through Newcastle and we then caught up with them again at the Angel and did a lot of work around there. From the Angel they looped down to the Holiday Inn in Washington and then finally on that stint to have lunch at Durham County Cricket ground. Again, lots of chat, lots of smiles. Jeff met up with the Hartlepool Football Club supporters group. Jeff often talks of his love for Hartlepool - the town and also the football club so it was great to see him meeting the supporters’ trust and again regaling stories of past wins and the hope of success in the coming season.
From Durham Cricket Club it was very much cross-country through the back streets and byways to the Stadium of Light which from a logistical perspective for me and Karl was very much having a map, figuring out where they were crossing and being at the right location to spot 100 people walking towards us - hopefully on the correct road and the correct timeframe to be able to get as many images as we could.
In order to achieve this we took over 5,000 images on the day which was just fantastic. So many smiles and so much happiness just being part of a day like that was absolutely fantastic.
Photography-wise for us, we shot a mix of wide angles capturing the essence of each of the locations that we were at from St James’ Park to the middle of Newcastle to the Angel of the North, all the way through to the Stadium of Light. But also lots of tight, zoomed-in images which allowed us to capture the faces and smiles - not to mention the anguish on the pained feet of people as they walked the distance of 26 miles.
From my perspective, it was fantastic to be part of a national fundraising campaign. I’ve supported lots of charities and done lots of charity work myself over the years so to be working with such a well respected and well known UK charity was just another opportunity for me to combine both my sports photography elements along with the feeling and sense of really supporting an organisation that really, really makes such a difference and has a close place in my heart.
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