Photographing Stuart Kettell’s Charity Hamster Wheel Run for Macmillan Cancer Support

One of the pleasures in doing what I do is that I get to meet really fun people. Sometimes they are people who I work with. Stuart Kettell who runs Kettell Video Productions in Coventry is one of these people and he introduced me to his annual charity fund raising events for Macmillan Cancer Support. For several years Stuart has devised a ‘Mad Fool’ task that he does to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. His past challenges have included cycling on a replica Penny Farthing from Lands End to John O’Groats and Kayaking across the channel from France to Coventry and last year he suspended himself, David Blaine style, inside a Perspex box suspended above Broadgate in Coventry city centre for a week. In the last two years I’ve also started to support Macmillan Cancer Support with my photography and I now provide the official photography and some graphic design work for Stuart’s Challenges (free of charge, of course).

This year Stuart’s ‘Will the Mad Fool Make It?’ challenge was even more unusual ….. and I was there from the initial idea stage until the end. The idea needed to be explained to potential sponsors in fairly simple terms so Stuart asked me to knock up a graphic in Adobe Indesign and Photoshop. Here it is ……

Unusual Eh? So what was it all about? Well, the idea was for Stuart to run a marathon every day for a week inside a giant hamster wheel. If that wasn’t enough to spark some interest he wanted the hamster wheel to be balanced on one end of a giant See-Saw. On the other end there would be a donation pot for the people of Coventry to make donations towards Macmillan Cancer Support. As the donations increased the see-saw would start to tip and (hopefully!) on day 7 with around £7000 in the pot the wheel would be lifted up.

Stuart spent months training inside the wheel on his driveway and I helped with some of the promotional photographs in the weeks leading up to the actual event in Broadgate, Coventry. Finally, the day arrived for the challenge to begin on a sunny Sunday March 20th ……..

He may be a bit mad but he really doesn’t bite, you know!

Whenever I’m covering any event, whether it be for charity such as Macmillan Cancer Support or perhaps for a business corporate event, I’m always mindful of the need to capture not only the activities and emotions of the event but also the reasons behind it. After all, Stuart was doing a fantastic job raising money for Macmillan Cancer support and he was raising awareness of the important work they do too.

It was really nice that Stuart gets support from local celebrities. In this case Roisin and John Dalziel (above) from the JD show on local commercial radio station, Mercia FM. In fact, the local radio stations (Mercia FM, Touch FM and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire) all took a firm interest and were very encouraging with their live interviews and raising awareness all week.

Stuart excelled himself this year by raising enough awareness to be invited onto ITV’s Daybreak with Adrian Chiles & Christine Bleakley and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Needless to say, running in a wheel in a giant hamster costume is unlikely to win over any talent scouts but it was great for publicity for the challenge and ultimately great for Macmillan Cancer Support. He asked me if I could help out with Photoshop again and I created this banner for Stuart to display near to the wheel.

So what does a 6 Foot, 46 year old marathon-running hamster look like? …. Well, what did you think he’d look like? …..

So here I am (above) proving that I was there! By the way, I designed the green sweatshirt just to make myself look a little more official. At least I wasn’t completely over shadowed by the main attraction!

And yes – hamsters do get hot when they’re running and they do need a drink! Hamster owners … never forget to check the bottle!

It’s also true to say that human hamsters get a little lonely unless they’ve got other hamsters to talk to. This little fella did his bit to keep Staurt company!

I’m told that running in the wheel is not quite the same as running on a flat surface, mostly due to the angle that your feet hit the wheel. Stuart went through real pain on some days and I spent one day calling every sports therapist that I could find to ask for their help. Luckily we managed to get some really good advice each evening and some really helpful (often painful) sports massages at the end of each day helped to keep him going.

So, Did the Mad fool make it? Did the mad fool manage to complete his 7 marathons in his hamster wheel?

Finally, the last day of the challenge arrived and Stuart had done it! Stuart had some fantastic support from the Coventry public all week and he collected thousands of pounds. The See-Saw tipped early afternoon on Sunday 27th March. Despite it being a breezy Sunday afternoon there was a great crowd there to cheer Stuart on with the help of Clive Skelhon, good friend of Stuart’s & former Mercia radio presenter, on the mic ……

And finally, the smiles said it all. I’m sure, for a brief moment, Stuart was glad it was all over! There’s no doubt he’ll be back with another mad challenge though ….. probably next year. Who knows what he’ll be doing next? ….. I DO!

The Result!

At the time of writing this, Stuart Kettell raised a massive £6400 for Macmillan Cancer Support with his Mad fool Hamster wheel challenge. Brillaint! If you missed seeing Stuart in Broadgate and you’d like to do your bit, it is still possible to donate online by visiting Stuart’s challenge website here

Well done Stuart – I’m really looking forward to doing more photography for you in the future and supporting Macmillan Cancer support even more!


General Blog Update

Ok, so you’ve not heard from me for a while ……Sorry about that!

Is it because I’ve been doing nothing and had nothing to say? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Far from it, in-fact. I’ve been SO BUSY that I simply haven’t had the time to tell you what I’ve been doing. Anyway, I’m now taking a break from the photography for a few days and I’m going to be adding a few more images from some of the events and weddings I’ve been doing in the last two months. I’ve been photographing weddings, Christmas parties, doing family photo shoots and doing some corporate photography in Warwickshire and Coventry …. and winning several awards for photos that I’ve been entering into international competitions for the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers) experts to judge!  More blog posts with more images to look at will follow VERY soon …..

Terry’s Surprise 65th Birthday Party at Sketchley Grange | photographed by Victoria Jane Photography

I’ve been lucky enough over the past year to be booked for a number of fantastic surprise birthday or anniversary parties.

I first met Shireen & Terry when I had been asked to photograph the President’s Golfing dinner at Nuneaton Golf course earlier in the year.

Shireen called me to say that she was organising a surprise party for her husband & wanted me to come along, for around 2 hours, to photograph the evening.  As she went on to explain what she was organising I was astounded by how much she was planning & I have to admit, a little excited to hear about the entertainment act she had chosen.

I’ve always been a fan of Monty Python & John Cleese, so imagine my delight when Shireen said that she had booked a Basil Fawlty & Manuel double-act from  “John Parkin as Cleese” (  I’ve got to say, I was not disappointed :).  They were brilliant! – The pair went from table to table in the classic Basil & Manuel style buffoonery, entertaining guests while we waited for Terry to arrive.  Not stopping there, during the buffet they went on to insult (in a humorous way of course), irritate &  make people laugh … Manuel even attempted to serve the buffet to the crowd, before perfectly executing a well thought out plot to pretend to drop a box with a set of very expensive crystal cut glasses in.  Even though Shireen had known the plan, both she, Terry & all 80+ guests were crying with hysterics when Manuel went flying, smashing the contents of the box to smithereens 🙂

Once the evening was well underway & Terry had started to recover from the fantastic Surprise his wife had organised it soon became clear that 2 hours photography wasn’t going to be long enough.  I was really pleased when Shireen asked me to stay 2 more hours to continue photographing the evening.  This also included some great entertainment provided by the musical tribute band Barry Walker’s Smackee.

Below is a small selection of the photographs taken on the evening.

Macmillan Coffee Morning in Ikea, Coventry – Great day, £220 raised!

It’s 10:30 pm and we’ve just got home and unpacked the car after doing our bit for the fantastic Macmillan Coffee morning. We were doing a children/family photoshoot in Ikea, Coventry city centre and were there for 11 hours.

We had a great time and we believe that the children and their parents did too.

We set up our backdrop and studio lights, brought out the bubbles, soft toys, jingly-jangly jester, coloured balls etc. We then took a series of photos for each ‘customer’ and shot tethered to our Mac and Instant photo printer. We were offering one 8×6 print for £5 and 3 prints for £12. Nearly everyone opted for the £12 offer.

How much money did we raise?

We took loads of photos and met some lovely people. We gave our time free of charge and after removing the cost of the media (the cost of the photo paper and dye sub film for our printer) we made a profit of £220 from the print sales and we will be donating this directly to Macmillan Cancer Support ….. a really pleasing result considering we sold prints at an average of around only £4 each!

We were on the radio – Fame at last!
Thanks to Brody Swain who presents the breakfast show on Coventry’s Touch FM local radio station (96.2 FM). He came along to support, spent a good hour with us, had a couple of photos taken and interviewed me and Sarah Harrison of Macmillan for broadcasting on air. He also helped to promote our Macmillan Photoshoot on the radio and via Twitter.

Here’s a slightly doctored snap shot of Brody, Sarah Harrison from Macmillan (on the right as you see it) and myself …

We also believe that we got a mention by John Dalziel on Mercia FM – Thanks John, much appreciated!

Bonus Prize Draw – £300 Family Photo Shoot
We decided to spice things up a little and got everyone who had photos done to enter their names into a prize draw to win a fantastic half day family Autumn photo shoot with Vicky worth, wait for it ….. nearly £300!!

We did the draw tonight and the lucky winner is …….. Mrs Dawson of Coventry!

A Massive Thanks to everyone who took part, Congratulations Mrs Dawson and we’ll be contacting you tomorrow!

Night all!

Vicky x

Children’s Face Painting – Earlsdon St, Coventry, 10th July

Earlsdon Kids enjoy face painting

We had a great time at Phoenix in Earlsdon Street in Coventry and our face painter was great! I took loads of photos on the day and I thought I’d show you just a few! We’ll definitely be doing more next year and I’d highly recommend Verity from ‘Sweethearts’ Face Painting in Coventry.

Saturday 10th July – Busy Day – Late Night Update

Sat 10th July 11:30pm

Just got home and have been taking photographs all day today since 9am!

Face Painting and Photographs in Earlsdon

Photos to follow once processed

I had a lovely time in our family-owned shop today (Phoenix Office and Printer Supplies in Earlsdon, Coventry). I set up one of my small portable studios with 4 lights and white backdrop. We organised a Children’s face painter (Verity from sweethearts in Coventry, who was very good!). I took photos of the Children afterwards and gave them a 6″x8″ print to take away with them.

Note to parents of children who had their faces painted today – If we agreed a password during the photo session I do intend to post extra images of your child on my main website in the next week or so. I’ve got other work to do first but I will be putting your children’s images on my main website within the next week in the Children’s Portraits Gallery.


Wedding Anniversary Celebrations for Mary and Mark Owen in Earlsdon

This evening I was booked to do a few family photos at a 25th wedding anniversary celebration in Earlsdon. We had a great time and, to my surprise, the people kept on coming! I really enjoyed myself, including meeting some past and present customers of our printer shop in Earlsdon. However, I was caught out by the shear numbers of photos I needed to do and so it will take me a good few days to prepare the images for viewing on a dedicated gallery on my main website 🙂

I’ll let Mary Owen know each time I add more images so she can inform her guests. I’ll do my best to get them up on the gallery asap.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got any problems or want an update please call me on 07739096632.


Looking Forward to Saturday – Face Painting and Photos for Coventry Kids

I’m really looking forward to Saturday 10th July. I’m going to be working in my family-owned shop in Earlsdon in Coventry. The Earlsdon Street Traders Association is putting on some special events for shoppers as part of it’s summer ‘Earlsdon-On-Sea’ event and Phoenix shop is having a children’s face painter ……. and I’m doing some instant photos to go with it.

On the day I’ll be doing before and after shots of children (without and with faces painted) and using my event printer I’ll be printing off an 8″x6″ photo straight away for the children to take home. My aim will be to take several photos of each child.

I’ll also be putting on a small display of my canvas prints and my wedding albums …. And …. I’ll have some special offers available for anyone who successfully recommends me to do photography for future wedding couples …. And…… I’ll have a special offer available for family photo shoots at home.

Pop along on Saturday if you are near to Earlsdon in Coventry. You’ll be very welcome and if you’ve got kids they can get their face painted!

I’ll be based at Phoenix Office and Printer Supplies, 43 Earlsdon Street, Coventry, CV5 6EP all day from 9am to 4pm.

Leroy’s 30th Birthday Bash in Coventry

I was asked to do a photo shoot at Leroy’s 30th birthday celebration in Coventry a week or two back. I processed the images a while ago but it’s only now that I’ve got round to adding a few images to this blog.

I’ll let the images do the talking. They were a great bunch of guys and were a lot of fun… and I’m really pleased that they had a nice time. It’s nice to have lots of individual photos but sometimes its fun to create a montage so I thought I’d do one here…….

Montage of Photos from Leroy's 30th

I tend to promote myself as a wedding and family/children’s portrait photographer but I’m equally happy to do corporate events and special occasions such as birthday parties. In fact, in the next few weeks I’m doing some anniversary parties and prom nights as well as some product shots for web sites.

If you know of anybody who might need a photographer for any of these things please let me know.