Dignity in Dying Progress Meeting August 24th

I met with Ellie Ball, Media and Campaigns Manager Dignity in Dying. I briefed her on my work in the same way as with the MS Society and took her through the Show and Tell material. Their interest is in material that shares the experience of those who have experienced the Dignitas process. They do this via research projects that they commission. The projects are then used to lobby the UK Parliament for a change in the law and to opinion formers such as the British Medical Association.

I explained the potential conflict with doing something with them and the MS Society who do not have a position for or against assisted dying. She advised she would look at the history of the relationship between the MS Society and Dignity in Dying. She said many organisations are now developing a dialogue with them and cited the Parkinsons Society as an example where a meaningful dialogue was now happening.

The MA Project could be shown within an interview process within the research programme. The current research is titled ‘Suicide Among terminally ill people.’ She provided me with the reports from the two previous research projects. Be warned there is some very distressing material in these reports.

‘The True Cost – How the UK outsources death to Dignitas’

‘The inescapable truth – How 17 people a day will suffer as they die’.

If a conflict does arise between the Dignity and Dying and the MS Society I will proceed with the MS Society. My work for my MA is about my experience living with someone chronically ill with MS who then dies. Although a big event, my wife Karens’ death in Switzerland is not the focus of the work but something that happened during my experience of her chronic illness.

Ellie explained one potential issue for them is that I live in Spain. I remain domiciled in the UK but am resident in Spain as was my wife.

The next steps are to see what Ellie comes back with and liaise with the MS Society, Tom Shelston, over any conflict issues.

It was an emotional day going through my story with both organisations today. It brought to the surface many of the difficulties I have gone through and also a responsibility to use my own experience to help in the best way I can people who are suffering a similar experience now. It also confirms the power of personal pain as a subject of investigation for photography.

Categories: Final Major Project, Project Development FMP

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.