An organisation such as ours thrives or fails by the quality of its members.
Alastair was an exceptional club member. His generous nature was apparent to all who came to our meetings. Indeed – many who have joined, including myself, were initially encouraged to do so by Alastair and, for others, he was very often the first to say hello and welcome.
His numerous contacts around Framlingham, helped to propel the club into prominence and, in recent years, he took on the task of publicising our events to all the local media.
He contributed so many great ideas and was a source of encouragement to all. He helped to run training sessions and always explained things in simple, easy to understand ways, which gave people the confidence they needed to improve their photography, irrespective of their levels of expertise.
He would proffer his advice and people would listen and take note.
His sense of fun and not taking himself too seriously was so disarming – acting as a calming influence on the running of our events.
Until recently, he had organised our Annual Photo Exhibition in the town.
When Alastair was present, visitors were encouraged to enjoy the exhibits and make constructive comments. He also used the exhibition as a very successful recruiting ground!
We have gathered together extracts from some of the many spontaneous comments made by our members.
Giles McGarry : “Alistair was the first person I spoke to at the club, he was so warm and welcoming and has always been such a friendly character. I'm so really very sorry. Please pass on my condolences to Janet and his family, I'm sure I speak for very many others - he'll be missed”.
Gerald Western: “I first met Alastair as a young Vet, when he had just joined Messrs Clay & Cabban in Framlingham over 40 years ago and those vet visits often ended with coffee and cake around the kitchen table. His calm, logical approach to the appropriate treatment of a sick calf, was the same that he used with complex camera systems or computer programs”.
Malcolm Pease: “I am sure I speak for all who knew him that we have lost one of life's gentlemen. I only knew him for a short while, but it was my privilege”.
Chris Allen: “Alastair was such a lovely chap, so warm and with such a calm character; he will, I know, be very sadly missed”.
John Ridgard: “We first met Alastair over 30 years ago when we kept livestock. Excellent though his veterinary colleagues all were, our animals usually stood their ground or backed off when a visitor arrived. However, when Alastair appeared, the herd leader immediately stepped forward, as if to signal to the others-“ It’s ok girls, this bloke’s a good ‘un”.
As a mentor in digital photography, Alastair was a patient, tolerant, well-informed teacher. I do not remember ever being so shocked as by the news of his death.”
Basil Welch: “I find it very difficult to put into words what I thought about him, other than he was a mate.
What can be said is that Alastair must have single handedly increased our membership more than any form of advertising, by recommending our club to friends and the like. Coupled with his role as 'Press Officer', he has helped the club enormously.
His enthusiasm for his hobby and willingness to help all new members has been spoken of elsewhere. It will also have gone a long way to retaining those who joined the club long enough for them to have felt welcome.
He has been a good friend to the club as well as individual members.”
Mirielle, sums it up very simply in just five words: Alastair was a remarkable man.
So here, with just some of the sentiments recorded, we can see a little of what Alastair meant to us. Others will know him in so many different roles and will have their own very fond memories.
When we say that he will be greatly missed – that is not just a form of words, it is a genuine statement of fact…... he will not be forgotten.
[Written by Michael Poole (Chairman FCC) and Roger Searle on behalf of everyone from the Framlingham Camera Club: 8 April 2014]