On a mission to immortalise war veterans

Photographer Matt Naish with Chris Smithson (Chairman RBL) and Kieron Mallon (President RBL)
Photographer Matt Naish with Chris Smithson (Chairman RBL) and Kieron Mallon (President RBL)

A budding Banbury photographer is preparing a project which will immortalise the area’s World War Two veterans.

Matt Naish, a company director, has teamed up with the Royal British Legion’s (RBL) Banbury branch in a bid to try to track down local war heroes with the aim of taking their pictures and combining them with the veterans’ own photos and stories from the war.

“This is a project I’ve been wanting to get off the ground for some time,” said the 34-year-old of Oxford Road.

“It dawned on me some time ago that somewhere in the not-so-distant future we’ll lose anyone that participated, or indeed witnessed, the Second World War forever as all of our veterans are nearing the end of their lives.

“This is all the more apparent when watching the ever-diminishing veterans’ parade in London for the yearly Armistice Day celebrations.

“I thought about the ways in which I could provide my own personal tribute to these brave men and women.

“I decided to combine it with my passion for photography and to try to get in contact with as many local veterans as possible in order to produce a photographic record of their existence.”

The eventual aim, depending on the response, is to put a collection of images and stories together in a book which can be sold, with a significant proportion of the proceeds donated to the RBL’s Poppy Appeal.

Mr Naish said the RBL has been very supportive and is helping him out by putting the word out in nearby branches but said the success of the project lies with people getting in touch.

“I’m urging any veteran, their friends or a member of their family interested in discussing the project to contact me,” he said.

He added he can travel to veterans across Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire as well as Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

Those interested can contact Mr Naish on 01295 402219, 07581 383188 or by e-mailing matthewnaishphotography@hotmail.com