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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.


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.


One Last Frame

I never got tired of wandering with camera, I thought it would always be this way. How wrong I was. I spent the best part of yesterday trekking to National Portrait Gallery, London, and back. Then today another gallery in Leeds to look at some important work I would like to get involved in.

As always when I am out with camera I was buzzing once there. I loved every moment of taking these, of simply being and so much interest and beauty to capture. I enjoyed seeing the portraits as part of the  Taylor Wessing Portrait prize exhibition and the added bonus of some Anthony Gormley’s watercolours.

But then the London trip involved being sat on a coach for three and a half hours each way, the rush of the underground with steps (I’m currently disabled), and the sheer effort of getting from a-b complete with heavy gear. I was completely worn out.

Achy and in a lot of pain in Leeds today I was late for the talk I was attending.The people traffic at the station was immense and I got stuck at a ticket gate.

I pushed on anyway and was lucky enough to still meet the curators of the ‘Dying Matters’ exhibition.  I still had an interesting conversation, but it was rushed, i was in pain and flustered by this point. They could probably tell. The pictures I got are dark and foreboding, even they show how I was experiencing the world when I took them.

A friends shared a link to  a documentary video called ‘one last frame’ by  Norwegian artist Niels Windfeldt.

Essentially the conversation is about the magic, specialness or consciousness of photography becoming lost in the ‘obsession’ of just taking pictures. Although beautiful and thought provoking it triggered a heavy doubt in my mind about my own work.

This is where I get demotivated and wonder what it is all for and about. If my passion is photography or image making and it becomes or is just an obsession does that mean that I lose the focus, the raison d etre for having my camera with me and going to these places? Do I make these images for myself, and only myself, obsession and all, or do I make them to share with the world, take them or leave them?

The smallest of adventures these days is such a physical challenge. Is there any point?

A day on, a sleep later and a chat with the friend that shared One Last Frame and I am sitting easier with this doubt a little bit.

My images are my search for personal truth and meaning. I see the world in my own unique way and sometimes I take pleasure in sharing it even if it goes nowhere or does not get appreciated by others. This is why I love photography.

Photography has brought me closer to people, closer to places and closer to understanding myself and my personal values. If that is all it ever does then it has been worthwhile. No matter how much of a challenge the process becomes.

My one last frame will be the one right in front of me when I leave this world silently. And that is ok.

In Tenebrous (Darkness within)

Artist’s Statement

In Tenebrous (Latin for ‘darkness within’) is a conceptual portfolio containing eight images.

  • Wall
  • Tidal
  • Shadow
  • Weather
  • Eclipse
  • Woods
  • Release
  • Lost

Each image represents a different inner quality or frustration. They are not passing judgement nor a sympathy card, but simply a reflection of what is going on internally.

So often what concerns us is outward appearance. This is particularly true in photography where even modest beautifying adjustments are standard. However, I really wanted to reflect on the private inner face, a portrait of the spirit if you like. Sometimes it is visible sometimes it is not.

The images are framed almost entirely in black with illumination in the form of LED lights placed around the edges, as though casting light. The intention is that the images should be viewed in a dark space. I want the viewer to feel as though they are seeing something normally hidden or out of sight. This is a private exploration therefore each image calls for dignity and privacy.

I would hope that through photography I can start to show more things as they really are, no one is without their In Tenebrous.

January 2017