All images are copyright Andy Monk 2018. All rights reserved
Holcombe Hill, Bury LancashireHolcombe Hill, Bury Lancashire
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How this calendar lark came about:

It all began with a diagnosis, at the start of the new Millennium. The girl I married when I was nineteen, five years after we had first met, found out that she had Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. The symptoms had started several years earlier but it was a slow process convincing the docs that there might be something wrong.

In an attempt to raise a few pounds for research I nipped out for a walk, to Bremen, a thousand miles or so. I have never met so many kind people, and found so much peace of mind, raising a few quid for The Myelin Project, for Multiple Sclerosis and Leukodystrophy research. This was to be the first of a few thousand miles of walking.

It always brings me much bonheur, and continued hope and optimism to recount the exceptional kindnesses and support bestowed upon me by so many inspirational people, many of whom had been personally touched by these devastating neurological disorders or the effects they have had on someone close to them.

I walked from Bury to Bremen, North Germany, following the route my father took with the 7th Bn. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) sixty years earlier, and then across England, with my wife, Gwen, calling at Newspaper offices and radio stations to drum up support for research. And when Gwen became too poorly to do any more walking, I borrowed an idea from some WI ladies (I hope they don't mind), and started producing calendars instead.

My dad, Jimmy Connely, and Jack Rafferty, part of D Company, 156 Brigade, &th Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

Positives and Negatives (Pixels and Film)

'Positives' - Beautiful, spectacular, daring, and sometimes downright dangerous photo shoots; there have been broken bones, hospital stays, people literally flying through the air, and being stamped on by horses, all for the sake of creating Charity Calendars - BeautyVsBeast, International Tomb Raiders, Country Girls, Vampires, Dressed2Thrill, Stonewalled, and Hot To Trot. All the girls have been shot, sometimes at dawn, using a dependable Nikon digital camera, ergo the images are all positives. The Nikon D3200 that I use has been worth its weight in gold; it's been thrown across the car when someone pulled out infront of me and I crashed into them, writing my car off, I've fallen in a stream with it in my hand and it's been submerged, I've dropped it on the ground in a car park, but it still works perfectly well, having taken nearly 200,000 images over the last few years.

I have shot photos for the calendars from the Scottish Borders to Warwickshire, and from Conwy to Scarborough, in places of outstanding natural beauty and of girls with outstanding natural beauty. I've photographed Equestriennes, country girls, Chinese Ballet Dancers, African Dancers, Belly Dancers, Moulin Rouge Dancers, Lara Croft, Leelo Dallas, Star Trek characters, Bonnie and Clyde, Cafe Racers, Fortune Tellers, Archers, and Vampires and witches.

'Negatives' - A collection of photographic negatives dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. I've not been collecting them since 1890, just the last twenty years or so. They are fascinating, the fashion, beautiful cars, how places looked all those years ago, offering a fleeting glimpse into times we could otherwise probably never begin to imagine. I have also used some of these to create charity calendars.


The Marketplace, from a 1927 photographic negative

The Myelin Projects aim is to accelerate research into remyelination of the damaged nerves caused by Multiple Sclerosis and the Leukodystrophies. They do not receive any government funding or lottery money so there is no red tape that could tie up funds and keep them from taking immediate action towards a promising research.

There's a truly amazing story behind the Myelin Project which was turned into a film, 'Lorenzo's Oil', which won Susan Sarandon an Oscar nomination as Best Actress, and in 1996 Phil Collins wrote the song 'Lorenzo', based on lyrics written by Lorenzo's mother, Michaela.

(Left) - Meeting little Julian, his mum, and Manfred Cordes, Bürgermeister of Oyten, near the end of a long walk to Bremen. Julian has a Leukodystrophy.
Clockwise - Manfred Cordes, my mum Nancy, wife Gwen, Regina (The Myelin Project), Crystal, Thomas, Julian, and myself.

 

CLICK HERE to read about my 1000 mile sponsored walk from Bury to Bremen -

OR HERE to read about 'my father's war' -

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