DURING the Queen’s visit to Harrow she will be presented with a book of photographs of inspirational people in our borough.
The collection, 60 Faces, is made up of images of people who have made a difference, people who have shown bravery and people who have entertained Harrow, each one representing one year that Her Majesty has been on the throne.
As part of the unveiling of the exhibition by Harrow Council’s photographer Dermot Carlin, each person whose image has made up the collection will attend the royal visit and some will be given the honour of meeting the Queen or Prince Philip.
Mr Carlin, who started work at the council giving out Meals on Wheels more than 20 years ago, has spent the last four months taking the photographs and interviewing each person involved.
He said: “I taught myself photography while I was delivering Meals on Wheels and working in the sorting room at the council and I can’t believe I am going to be meeting the Queen of England and giving her a book of my work. I am proud, excited and nervous all at the same time.”
The collection provides an image of each resident and a brief description about their surprising background, proactive work in the community or hope they have for the future.
One of the subjects is Robert Ward, who has learning difficulties and is part of Harrow Council’s Shared Lives scheme, and he is looking forward to meeting the Queen on Thursday.
Mr Ward, who will celebrate his 50th birthday in May with a visit from his parents from New Zealand, said: “I am really excited about meeting the Queen. I have got a Union Jack tie to wear.”
Mr Ward lives with Bob Gilbert and is integrating into his life rather than being in a care home.
The carer, who is a similar age to Robert and has a care background, said: “Robert has had such a great year. Last year, his friend died and he had a big change by moving here, but now he has so much more independence. He is like one of my family and my friends are now his friends. He has done a travel training scheme so can now get the bus and walk to different places by himself and is training two days a week at a nursery, growing plants. The difference between his confidence now and what he was like last year is incredible.”
The idea came from Mr Carlin’s previous I am Harrow exhibition which had 20 pictures of Harrovians worthy of recognition and was expanded to include a photo from each year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
The monarch will be presented with a book of all the inspirational images and stories and the photographer said: “I have been joking that she will keep it on her coffee table and show it to people. I hope she reads it and sees that these are ordinary people with interesting and incredible stories. I think it is definitely worthy of handing to the Queen.”
Neil O’Maonaigh-Lennon has run more than 150 marathons and raised thousands of pounds for charity.
The 31-year-old’s most demanding challenge was 105 marathons in 105 days and he now hopes to beat the world record for running from Lands End to John O’Groats, which would mean he had to run 93 miles a day for nine days.
He said: “It’s going to be an incredible honour to be there and it’s an incredible honour to be part of the exhibition.”
Gurudev Dr. Rajeshji Parmar set up the International Siddhashram Shakti Centre in Harrow 12 years ago and appears as part of the faith community with representatives from Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
He is originally from Gujarat in India and is the first Hindu Police Chaplain in the UK. He said: “There is so much diversity and people don’t feel like there are any boundaries between faiths here. I have met the Queen before in 2004 and I was representing Hinduism and I am very excited to be doing the same again. I will be happy to know that I am working for the community and that the council has recognised me for doing this.”
There is a wide variety of photographs including an ex-prisoner of war, a typist who worked at Bentley Priory during the war, a street entertainer, servicemen and women, a Gurkha, Scouts, a Porsche-driving lawyer and a loyal lollipop lady.
Jan Crouch has helped children cross the road for 23 years.
The 69-year-old, who sees her grandson safely across the road each day as well as hundreds of others, said: “When I am standing there on a cold, wet morning I wonder what I am still doing, but then one of the children or parents comes over and says ‘thank you for helping us cross the road’ and that makes it all worthwhile. I do it for the children, I am now onto second generations crossing over with their parents who used to go to school nearby.”
Of all the people photographed however, one stood out for Mr Carlin.
He said: “My favourite story was Gena Turgel who survived the horrors of three concentration camps during the war and I was lucky enough to interview her and speak to her at her home. She had been through the hell of Auschwitz and she was the most amazing and dignified woman. She didn’t have anything bad to say about anyone and her story sounds like it would have been made up in Hollywood. To marry the man who rescued her and get married in British parachute silk is just incredible and I hope I captured her dignity in the photograph.”