Working on the 'Growing up Wild Campaign' for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust

I love listening to other people's stories about their time growing up in Suffolk. For someone like me, a once committed 'towny', these stories seemed like a million miles away from what I experienced growing up in London. Only just recently, I had the good fortune to be asked if I would like to produce a new set of images for a campaign on behalf of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I was tasked with producing a series of environmental portraits. This new collection of images were to accompany their “Growing up Wild” exhibition which aimed to create a memory bank of people's childhood experiences on growing up in the Suffolk countryside. The finished exhibition of work would tour the county and be on display at a selection of the Trust’s wildlife centre's and sites dotted around Suffolk. 

Robert & Keith- Growing up Wild Campaign

Robert & Keith- Growing up Wild Campaign

Many Inniss for the Suffolk Wildlife Growing up Wild Campaign.

Many Inniss for the Suffolk Wildlife Growing up Wild Campaign.

The project featured over a hundred individual stories, centred around their experiences of exploring and playing in the Suffolk countryside from winter and summers gone-by.

The project was designed to capture the oral histories of outside play, and also paints a picture of a landscape that the Trust is working hard to protect and restore. 

I was introduced to around twenty individuals from all over the county, all who had great personal memories of their time growing up in Suffolk. I had a great time with two lovely gentlemen, both in their 80's who grew up in the same small village near Woodbridge during the war years. Robert and Keith, who are still best friends, gave me a guided tour around the very small village of Great Bealings where the lived and played as children. The showed me the 'deep hole' which was their favourite hideaway under a great tree root, and even the school they attended back in the thirties which is still in use as a junior school. I also met and photographed others would reminisced on their time playing in a more rural environment which now no longer exist. Stories from a completely different generation and era, some now long lost to others from much recent times. 

Another great benefit was in discovering some truly beautiful locations around the countryside, locations which I hope to use for future photographic shoots. 

The opportunity to photograph such a diverse range of people, all of whom I could have spoken with for hours was a chance not to be missed, one of my best assignments of the year. 

The project aims to help encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the rich natural heritage on their doorstep, which we know is so beneficial for our health, wellbeing and happiness.

You can see more images and read some of the great stories on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s website here.

And if you have your own fond memories of growing up wild in Suffolk then get in touch and add you story to the list of other lovely stories.

john Ferguson