22 April ’13
Sunday before last I was given the opportunity to take photographs at the annual IHC picnic organised by the Fitzherbert Lions at the Ashhurst Domain. This is an event that the Lions Club organise to give the clients a fun day out, and also to give the carers a day to relax and know their charges are well entertained.
The Lovely Man was going to be driving the Fire Engine, giving the ‘guys’ rides around the park – always a hit with everyone, young and old. He invited me along in my capacity as unofficial “Official Photographer” for the Ashhurst Fire Brigade. At first I was thrilled, and started thinking of shots I could get. But once we were in the appliance and heading to the park I began to have doubts. I am not at my best with strangers in social situations, and the idea of strangers with special needs was beginning to feel daunting.
As soon as we arrived I was adopted by the sweetest little lady. She kept coming up to me and taking my arm, never saying a word. But she stroked my arm and nodded that, yes, she would like a ride in the fire engine. A real sweetheart.
Loading people with physical as well and mental disabilities up in to the truck is a bit of a mission, but there were plenty of strong and willing helpers on hand. The expressions of sheer happiness on the client’s faces when they returned from their rides made all the effort worthwhile.
One chap named Micheal seemed painfully shy, I could not get him to look at me for a photo. The look of sly delight on his face as he climbed down from the fire engine was priceless.
Micheal’s friend was telling me all about how they are fund raising to get to the Special Olympics in Dunedin. He told me about his flight to Nelson, where he won medals for weightlifting. The men’s carer told me that this gent is indeed a champion weightlifter. I was very impressed.
In a Humans of New York moment I had to snap a shot of this most awesome jacket/hat/jeans combo during the lolly scramble.
So as it turned out my misgivings were entirely groundless. I had a wonderful afternoon, as did everyone else. In fact it was a privilege to document this day of fun and laughter.
Thanks to the Lions Club and the Ashhurst Fire Brigade for making this a great day out for all concerned.