About the man you could have killed

I wanted to write you a letter about the man you could have killed on Saturday 24/03/2018.  You need to know the kind of amazing person he is and why we need people like him in this world. I also want you to understand a little of his suffering these last few days, and how a community of people have come forward with nothing but concern and care for him as well as information about you.

He is called James Purdie. He is 46 years old and he has a daughter who is 22. He is also step dad to my two youngest 18 and 21.

rachels birthday-1.jpg

James loves the outdoors, he is into climbing, motorbikes, walking, fishing and has a dog named Jethro. He likes motorsports.  We have been together for 10 years and we have a  future together that was very nearly taken away this weekend.



The man you almost killed has spent his entire career looking out for young adults in trouble, from youth work to outdoor education, from finding homes for them to talking them through some of the hardest parts of their life in a Pupil Referral Unit.  He has run projects and developed services to get them started in life, after a bumpy beginning. He still believes in their future even when others have written them off. Some of those kids have gone on to name their own kids after him.

The man you almost killed would care about what happens to you as a result of your stupidity on 24/3. He would be concerned that having the police knocking on your door or losing your driving licence/job would cost you in the long term,  James believes in a ‘just society’ where people who sometimes do bad things are understood to be broken by circumstance and not necessary bad people, they have not had the opportunity to be good people yet. In his world everyone deserves a second chance. Even though you could have killed him,  if he were to meet you he would still shake your hand and then ask why you didn’t make a wiser choice before driving around Penistone like you did.

What was going on for you that day that you drove up Bridge End in Penistone with your hydraulic arm protruding out the side of the white van at 11.24am? From CCTV footage we know that this arm was bouncing up and down and swinging around. it should have been secured but it wasn’t. When you got to Ego hairdressers it nearly hit a lady named Jo. She shouted after you and called you an idiot. But you carried on.


Less than a minute later that arm crashed down onto James’ skull. A witness was right behind you in her car. She thought you had killed him. You drove on and she beeped her horn at you to try and get you to stop.

50 yards down the road the metal arm collided with a parked camper belonging to Howard. He was due to go away in it over easter.  It took out the window on the side. You still carried on driving. We think you may have stopped near Green Lane, were you wondering at this point whether to go back? You must have known at this point that you had caused damage,


Back with James, People in their houses had heard you hit James. People in the shops at the top of Unwin Street heard it. They came out thinking it was a car accident. He was on the floor, trying to get up, but couldn’t.

A lady called Sophia sat him up and stayed with him. Another neighbour called for an ambulance and the police as you had carried on driving. A workman nearby stopped work and also came and sat with James. I arrived and we waited for medical help. It took a while and during that time so many people stopped to see if we needed help.


As a result of your terrible misjudgement I watched the man I love almost pass out on the pavement outside his own house. I watched him fighting to breath as blood ran down his face,  fear in his eyes, a man who has climbed mountains and calmed down teenagers weilding a knife.  I watched the colour drain from his face and his eye blacken. I watched him shiver and his hands go ice cold from the shock.


I watched him be loaded into an ambulance. At the hospital he was surrounded by doctors, nurses and specialists. He was stripped of his dignity in order to save his life. He was in Resuscitation for three hours and gave the doctors there a real scare.


He was sent for a CT scan which revealed that you had fractured his skull, right down his forehead into his nose. All this time he had little pain relief and nothing to eat or drink. The ambulance staff had not realised how badly injured he was. All he did was quietly ask for a drink, which he was denied in case they needed to operate on him.


Once his injuries were clear they could prioritise putting him back together. I then watched as had his head stapled together again. It hurt a lot.


He needed eight stitches to the top of his head. Two other wounds were glued. The thing that hit him had scraped away the hair and the scalp. The next morning a big clump of hair came away. James is not James without his hair.

For the last two days I have watched him night and day fighting the pain and trying to avoid bothering the nurses for more pain relief. I have watched his eye swell up and him be unable to speak or eat because his entire head feels like it is going to explode.

He has been unable to take a bath, eat or sleep properly. He should have been in work this morning finding homes for children in care but instead was confined to a hospital ward.

Tonight he came home to begin his full recovery still in pain and unsure what his future holds, headaches, infections? Loss of memory? James’ blood is still spilled on the pavement where it happened. Like his injuries, they will not disappear so quickly.


I cannot help but wonder what you have been doing all that time. Social media has been going a little busy trying to find out who you are, and we think we know over 300 shares of the appeal for information. All the incoming information is now with the police for them to do their part.

I know James does not want you to have a worse life for your reckless mistake. My thought is that you are just happy to think you have got away with this, you might soon be laughing and joking with your friends about that time you knocked a bloke out. You might be oblivious to the pain and suffering you have caused a good man, a wonderful man, a man whose entire family drove from all over the country to be at his bedside. I am not exaggerating. James is the kind of man we could all learn from. You might like him, he’s a top bloke.


We don’t know what the next few weeks will hold for James or for you, or any of the other people we don’t yet no about who were affected by your actions that day. But I would like to say this to you . no drama, why don’t you get touch with James and explain why you did this? Say you are sorry to the man you nearly killed. He will only want to tell you that what you did was stupid and that you should never do anything like that ever again. He might give you some advice on how to make your life a little less likely to lead you to jail.  James will want to be ok with you, and you ok with him.

James Purdie











Death, dying and bereavement

via The Reality is…

A conceptual photography blog by Samantha Devine Photography. It shines a light on the narratives found in death dying and bereavement.


A path offered


I’ve been a little quiet on this Blog since starting back on my final year doing a BA Creative Practice (Photography).

Over the summer, in fact over the last year a number of changes in my life have resulted in my path taking a slightly different direction than I originally thought. My path over the summer turned to end of life, particularly the practices and rituals around death, dying and bereavement. I’ve also been blessed with meeting some truly wonderful, wonderful people who have signposted this path. Whether it be the balance between heartache and heartwarming or just listening to my ‘bliss’ in each moment.  Suddenly the images I am producing start to make more sense. As a good friend would put it “I am in the flow”.

So let me introduce you a little into my work these last few months and some of the people that have influenced me.

Rocky, I simply must start with Rocky, a true Yorkshire Cowgirl. Rocky lives on her ranch between Barnsley and Holmfirth. When I say ranch, I mean Ranch with a capital R. A wood built log cabin, overlooking hills, moorland and fields, with a nearby Pennine Trail that she rides her four horses along and to a nearby reservoir.

The day I met her, she was on the trail with friend Sue. They climbed off their horses and strode into the cafe where I was sat. I knew immediately I wanted to photograph them. The day of the photographs was terrible weather, but I persevered and they did too, In hindsight it was this patience that led to one of my favourite images, of all the images I have ever taken. Two of these images were produced in the Times along with Rocky’s story as a direct result of that photoshoot.

Then there is Ria, beautiful, beautiful Ria. I came across Ria on a website called Helpful Peeps. She offered to sit for a portrait but I learned much more about her than just these pictures. Ria’s son Gareth died earlier this year. Our conversation turned to grief, plans, not making plans and how life continues despite such heartbreaking tragedy. I asked Ria to recount funny stories of Gareth as we took these images.  At a later shoot we held a memorial with two close friends of Ria’s on Cleethorpes beach. The following week Ria was due to attend an inquest detailing the cause of her son’s death. The sunset was blazen pink that evening in Cleethorpes. A mothers love and deep distress was crystal clear, even through the smiles.


Grey Britain

I love the uk and I love photographing it, whatever the weather.

Welcome to my collection of Grey Britain, a celebration of the beauty that still exists when it is wet, foggy, drizzly and damp.


Where is the love?

It is national writing day today, as well as the solstice. A time for welcoming and being grateful for the sun and fine weather.

Go silently was meant to be about finding calm in a chaotic world. a world where we are thrown into a media mix of news, advertising, and social networking. Everywhere is vying for our attention, access to our purse, our support or our opinion. Noise is frequently all around us pulling us ither and tither. Go Silently was meant to be a pause, a period of stillness within the noise, not outside of it. Right now I find myself outside of it and wanting to be a million miles way from it.

Today I sat in the pedestrian area in Sheffield city centre. I watched the world going by. So much diversity, so much poverty and a lot of difference. I saw addiction, I saw homelessness, I saw power being abused and I saw desperation. I did not come away inspired by humanity between all these people. Which brings me to love. I saw no love.

In that hour and a half of pure watching, never once did I witness any love. The opposite of love is not hate… it is selfishness. What I did see was a great deal of selfish behaviour. People so wrapped up in their own world that doors closed on elderly with shopping, mums with babies in arms toppled and fell on the tram unable to find a seat.

Smiling, giving up a seat, saying hello, welcome, how are you? greeting strangers as friends, helping one another, waiting for someone, being patient, being accommodating, being selfless all easy things to do, surely?

Perhaps I was not being loving enough, not projecting all those values that I believe in. I am not sure what made me hold back from being the one to offer love. I have had a very tough time physically lately and today needed my walking stick to get about. Going from occasional mobility problems to virtually constant pain has made me withdraw a little. My hesitation to love feels like more than that though. I feel I have given too much physically, and emotionally recently and it has left my well of humanity rather dry. So dry that it feels like there is nothing left for me to give. How I refill that supply I am not sure. I am around people who are happy to take all that I can offer at no or little cost to them and with but a tiny trickle of love offered in return.

I think it time I found myself a new circle of people to love.

A photographer's peaceful space

%d bloggers like this: