Hastings photographer home from African adventure

A photographer from Hastings spent a month teaching his craft to teenagers living in some of the poorest areas of South Africa.

John Cole and Brighton-based actor and producer David Westhead were in Soweto in Johannesburg during the World Cup helping eight disadvantaged teens learn the fundamentals of photography so they could earn money with their cameras.

Mr Cole, of Godwin Road, said: "The four-week project was an exhilarating roller coaster ride for both students and teachers alike.

"Through the amazing generosity of so many people from the educational, commercial and creative industries in both the UK and South Africa, we were able to teach the students on state-of-the-art Macs at one of Johannesburg's finest arts colleges.

"We managed to get the students into the World Cup Kick-Off Concert featuring Shakira and a host of other international pop stars, and a special World Cup church service, replete with vuvuzelas and football costumes.

"We also took pictures depicting a day in Diepsloot, one of Johannesburg's poorest townships, as well as going on dozens of other assignments to help them hone their photographic skills."

The project, called Wembley to Soweto, was dreamt up by Mr Cole and Mr Westhead during a casual conversation in a caf last December.

Mr Cole, 61, was among more than 80,000 people who attended a concert at Wembley stadium to celebrate the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela in 1988.

He said: "I was at that concert and photographed the huge throng of people who had come to honour Mr Mandela. David saw the photo 22 years later on the internet and contacted me to ask for a copy of the image.

He told me about his work teaching film-making to township youngsters."

The pair have plans to continue working with the students online, teaching and coaching them via the internet.

Mr Cole said: "We want to run Wembley to Soweto for years to come. But in order to do this, we need more funding."

If anyone is interested in contributing, log onto www.wiltonpictures.com