Photo exhibition will mark ‘amazing year’

John Young's top picture of the year, for which he won several awards SUS-140605-172710001
John Young's top picture of the year, for which he won several awards SUS-140605-172710001

WHEN John Young was asked to be mayor Bob Smytherman’s photographer, he had no idea how much the role would turn his life around.

Having moved back from New Zealand, where he was the manager of a large bus and coach company, John was suffering from a mental breakdown, and by his own admission was ‘in the gutter.’

But a chance meeting with Bob set him on a totally different path.

The 54-year-old, of Pelham Road, Worthing, said: “At the time that I was asked to be the mayor’s photographer, I could not see how this would change my life for the better, but having something to get up for and work on every day was the best medication I could have for this illness.

“I have managed some big things in my life here and in New Zealand, but managing a illness and the stigma that goes with has been the hardest thing I have done in my life, as you don’t know how low you have to go before you can come out the other side.

“It is something so hard to explain to anyone as you can- not put it into words, but now I can see some light from this darker place.”

Over the course of a year, John has taken 15,000 images, and will celebrate his work with a photo exhibition at the Southern Pavilion on May 15 and 16.

He said: “This has just been an amazing year and every photo has a meaning. It has been so hard to narrow it down to just a handful of images, but the memories will last a lifetime.

“The biggest change though has been my wellbeing and I have a lot of people to thank for that, not least Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, which has given me a great deal of support.

“I must also thank Bob, Norah and Herbie who have become good friends in this past year.”

John says that helping to launch the first Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week was a key moment.

“I hope we have shown people that it is good to talk and you should never be so alone with this illness. I was suicidal and in the gutter not that long ago,” he said.

“Being around so many people this year has been a tonic for me and it has really helped. Now I am back on the straight and narrow.”

The exhibition will raise money for Guild Care, Mind West Sussex and the Alzheimer’s Society. Entry is £5.

The launch night, featuring the first look at the exhibition, entertainment and raffle will take place at 7pm on Wednesday (May 13)