In 1986 I’d been out of art college in Bradford a couple of years and I was working in a Manpower Services Commission job I had with an oral history and photographic archive. The pay was better than unemployment benefit until, 6 months in, I started having to pay tax. We were out enjoying a pub lunch with an old Guardian-reading friend and he had this ad for an outfit I’d never heard of (BTCV) in a town I’d never heard of (Wallingford, Oxon) for a graphic designer, which only sort of fitted my skill set at the time. Salary was £6336 though and I reckoned that it was worth a punt for 6 weeks and then pack it in if it didn’t work out. Reader, I bought a suit and got the job.
A busy period ensued (though not wearing a suit) which lasted 25 years, at which point I became freelance and retained BTCV as a client, which they still are today almost exactly 33 years later. That “busy period” included making many friends, colleagues and, as it turned out, future customers.
Head Office in Wallingford filled up with computers and the typewriters went into the loft. The worldwide web was invented and at some point I became website manager as well as doing publications, graphics, social media, video and picture librarian – see, never a dull moment. A lot has changed but you know, a lot has stayed the same. People connecting with nature in the company of others will always be good medicine and TCV continues to deliver this opportunity.
Occasionally, on the pretext of “taking some photos”, I’d be let out of the office to snap away for the holiday brochure and the Conserver members’ magazine. The pic above is in St. Leonard’s Church, Wallingford (late ’80s?) which was being looked after by a member group of what’s now the Community Network, and David Bellamy turned up to do his thing. What a bloke!