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Highgate photographer pays tribute to community spirit in photo book in aid of food bank charity

PUBLISHED: 10:33 01 August 2020

Derek Hayden, site manager at Brookfield School, inspired Ruth's Two Metres project. Picture: Ruth Corney

Derek Hayden, site manager at Brookfield School, inspired Ruth's Two Metres project. Picture: Ruth Corney

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“I just wanted to reach out to people doing special things.”

Dawn gives photographer Ruth a thumns up from her locked-down window. Picture: Ruth CorneyDawn gives photographer Ruth a thumns up from her locked-down window. Picture: Ruth Corney

A Highgate photographer spent 2020’s unusual spring snapping portraits of people around Hampstead and Highgate who were observing lockdown and were helping each other get by.

Ruth Corney is now selling a book of photos in honour of the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation (AWTF), and wanted to memoralise a unique time in north London life.

She said: “I’ve photographed over 100 people, and I asked them about their experiences of lockdown.

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Luigi, and his cat, were among Ruth Corney's lockdown subjects. Picture: Ruth CorneyLuigi, and his cat, were among Ruth Corney's lockdown subjects. Picture: Ruth Corney

“It started as I was delivering food from Brookfield School and I was just so impressed by the caretaker – he has been cooking for everyone and looking after vulnerable people in that way. Inspired by his story, I wanted to reach out and I wanted to put across a sense of how these people were dealing with everything.”

Ruth explained that, whether just walking the much quieter streets, or when helping to deliver food parcels to those in need, she had tried to capture the community spirit which bubbled away during lockdown.

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She said: “There was one particular young woman who was living with her grandma – she was with her for the whole time and said it had been a remarkable chance to spend time together. ”

Nargiz photographed at the door of her home by Ruth Corney. Picture: Ruth CorneyNargiz photographed at the door of her home by Ruth Corney. Picture: Ruth Corney

The AWTFs’s founder, Lindsey Wylie, as quoted in the book, said: “I have been at home less than ever before. As restaurants and shops closed, donation offers

flooded in.

“So I spent all day, every day, in our little van collecting supplies or delivering to the ill and the shielding. It was a profoundly lonely time, with my experience of lockdown being the complete reverse of everyone else’s.”

The book’s foreword is contributed by Camden New Journal writer Dan Carrier, who himself helped feed hundreds of families in the borough with an emergency food delivery service.

Malik and family photographed for Ruth Corney's Two Metres project. Picture: Ruth CorneyMalik and family photographed for Ruth Corney's Two Metres project. Picture: Ruth Corney

The pictures include one of Derek Hayden the aforementioned Brookfield caretaker, and of groups like Hampstead Volunteer Corps and the Highgate Newtown Community Centre, who mobilised rapidly to help feed and look after vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods.

To buy the book, visit awtf.org/ruth, or visit the Owl bookshop or Gail’s on Swain’s Lane. All proceeds goe to the AWTF, which during lockdown has doubled down on its support for foodbanks like at the Ringcross Centre off Holloway Road.


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