Romford Pictures: Romford photographer chronicles the lives of 100 centenarians
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 November 2013
It all started when an elderly lady in a care home told him she had walked out of a Buckingham Palace garden party in a huff because she was not going to meet the Queen.
She was Ethel Naztler, a former Ilford mayoress, more than 100 years old and now friendless and waiting for God. Instead, that day, she was found by Romford photographer Jayson Brinkler.
The meeting set in motion his still unfinished project to chronicle the lives of 100 over-100s for his book, Centenarians, which he hopes will be ready in time for the anniversary of the First World War next year.
That was 12 years ago. Since then, Jayson, of Mercury Gardens, has found and photographed 80 people – many of whom have proved an incredible living link to some of the most momentous events of our past.
They include Frances Partridge, the last member of literary circle the Bloomsbury Group, who was friends with Arthur Conan Doyle and whose father was friends with Charles Darwin. There is Judy Ingamells, 112, who met Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, and the oldest British living twins, Fanny and Jane Billington.
And there are 20 First World War veterans, including the last “Tommy”, Harry Patch, and Henry Allingham, once Europe’s oldest man at 113.
Most of his subjects are now dead but they live on through Jayson’s work.
“If I don’t do the project, their memories and stories will be lost forever,” said the 43-year-old. “And it is important to document these people because they are from a totally different generation and it would be nice if people learnt about their lives.”
When it is complete, Jayson envisages his book will appeal to those interested in social history.
“The changes my subjects have seen have been awesome and it has been fascinating and a privilege documenting their lives,” he said.
“They have lived through a turbulent century, which had witnessed some of the most terrible moments in the history of mankind as well as some of its greatest achievements of incredible scientific and technological advances.”
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