Michael Anderson

Photography plays a significant role in many of my interests. I can share my experiences with others and raise awareness about the causes that are close to me. So, not only do I enjoy taking photos, but I also find a purpose for them!

I grew up in the North East of England and attended school in Durham. I studied law at London University and spent 30 years at BCLP in corporate finance. Now retired, Ralph and I live in the Cotswolds, where I pursue my favourite hobby – gardening – as well as travelling, volunteering with Young Enterprise, and mentoring students from UCL. Not to mention, spending time with Frank, our fox red Labrador.

My interest in photography dates back to my childhood. My parents were enthusiastic amateur photographers and took many pictures during our family holidays. We would watch them together on the projector. After they passed away, I returned to our family home and discovered thousands of old photos. The ones that hold special meaning are those with people in them. With that said, photography supports my love of gardening, and I have taken thousands of photos of various gardens across the country. When photographing gardens, I’m interested in the juxtaposition of the hard landscape – hedges, walls, fountains and paths – with the soft landscape of flowers.

We are proud members of the National Garden Scheme (NGS), which offers visitors the exclusive opportunity to explore over 3,500 exceptional private gardens across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. The scheme raises a significant amount of money for nursing and health charities. Every year, we open our garden and take photos of it for advertising purposes and the NGS website. This year, we will be opening our garden on 25th and 26th August, with tickets available here. We are also excited to host a group of 50 gardening enthusiasts on one of our private tour dates. All ticket fees go towards the NGS fundraising, so we’re happy to be supporting a bigger cause too.

During the garden tours, I also sell plants to fundraise for a charity that is close to my own heart – the Zambezi Sunrise Trust. This charity supports children in Zambia and was set up by two of my friends. They have built a school called the Linda Community School, near Livingstone in Zambia. Now a home to 800 children who would otherwise be outside of the education system. Last year, I managed to raise £1000 for the charity through plant sales. Taking great photographs helps to attract people to visit, so the more visitors who come, the more I can raise.

I have been lucky enough to visit the school twice and even opened a classroom with a plaque bearing my name. It’s something I am very proud of. During my visits, I take a lot of photos which are then used for fundraising. It’s a wonderful role! Despite extreme economic hardship, the children are full of joy – always smiling and laughing. They are incredible to photograph and always put life into perspective.

As well as Zambia, we have been able to travel to many wonderful places. Maybe my parents’ love for travel and photography has inspired me to do the same. The picture I submitted for the Circle Square x Rankin competition was taken at Ban Pakla, in the northern region of Laos. For several months of the year, the sky is filled with smoke due to the burning of forests and other vegetation for farming purposes. Fortunately, it was a relatively clear day when I took the photo, as sometimes the sun cannot be seen at all.

This year, we are travelling to Sri Lanka and last year was Thailand. Our travels inspire me to take photographs where buildings and history are captured against incredible landscapes. When I’m not travelling, I like to return to where I grew up in North Yorkshire and the Lake District. There, I enjoy taking pictures of the Fells and the Lakes in the background, with the sheep, stone walls, and slate farmhouses in the foreground. To me, that’s what home feels like. Another photo I entered into the competition was of Wastwater, the deepest lake in England, located in the Lake District. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is owned by the National Trust. The river Irt, which flows into the Irish Sea, originates from this lake. In the picture, you can also see Frank, my trusted model!

There are a few photographers who inspire me with their work and resonate with the areas of life that mean the most to me. The first one is Hugo Rittson Thomas, famed for his portraits of the late Queen and the Dalai Lama. I love his beautiful photos of the Secret Houses of the Cotswolds. Secondly, Joe Cornish represents my northern background and captures stunning landscape photographs of Yorkshire and the Dales. Lastly, there is an amateur and local photographer, Jane Stilwell, who takes incredible photos of her travels.

I look forward to life filled with more gardening, travelling, and giving back. Photography allows me to capture and share my passions. Plus, Frank is an excellent muse!”

To find out more about The Zambezi Sunrise Trust, or to donate, visit www.zambezisunrisetrust.co.uk

Circle Square Member Q&A

What 3 words best describe you? People person, gardener, traveller.

If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be? You don’t have to do a law degree to have a career in law. Do something that you’re passionate about. I would tell myself to study history.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My career.

Which person (dead or alive) would you most like to invite to dinner?  The King – for his shared interest in gardening and difficult family members!

How has age strengthened your advantage?  I am less self-conscious and worry less. I also have greater context to make better decisions.

What inspired you to join Circle Square? The post-retirement opportunities, including the Planning Your Next Chapter programme and events programme, are all excellent.

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