A new word for love of life

29th December 1995 at 00:00
TES staff photographer Neil Turner remembers 1995 in pictures. Someone once referred to me as a 17-stone fly on the wall. I went on a diet, but I was flattered: that is just the impression I want to leave behind. If a photographer can take good photographs without making the subject uncomfortable, the mission has been accomplished.

1995 has seen education become a political hot potato, but in selecting these images I have chosen photographs that mean something more than just news. Each of them made a deep impression on me, even before I processed the film.

Well into her nineties, Frances Partridge says that she is still learning. The last surviving member of the Bloomsbury set still has that eagerness for knowledge that we recognise in young children. I left her flat with the same sensation that I feel when leaving nursery and primary schools, such as the Flora MacDonald nursery in Islington, where I spent a magical morning.

I will make my thousandth visit to a school or college during 1996. I can still remember all of them, even if not by name. I will certainly never forget Christ's Hospital. The architecture is beautiful, the grounds are huge and the uniform is unlike any other I have seen. The school is not quite as you would expect: it has many pupils on assisted places, bursaries and scholarships.

Three of the four Holloway children are deaf. Their father, lan, plays for Queens Park Rangers in west London but has moved the family to Bristol so that the three girls can go to the bilingual (English and sign language) school he wants for them. Ian drives 240 miles a day to and from work. He knows that he is lucky that he can afford to do so, but it is still a great effort willingly undertaken for the children.

Jamie Bird has Down's syndrome and goes to a mainstream school. Lack of funding almost prevented this delightful boy joining his friends in September. Jamie uses a simple sign language which he demonstrated for me between school and tumble tots. I am going to have to think up a word for that wonderful feeling when you have just met someone who can't get enough of life and who really lives it to the extent that you are glad you met them. I can apply it to everyone in these five pictures.

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