One of the most respected members of our society, honorary Crewe PS member Ron Smith is to be made the subject of an article in the Royal Photographic Society magazine.
Newer members will not have had the inestimable pleasure of meeting Ron, or had their minds boggled and sides split by attending one of his truly remarkable lectures delivered to the society over the years. We are absolutely delighted to hear that the RPS is honouring him in this way.
Mind you, it is not the first time that the RPS have honoured him. In 1976 he was awarded their Hood Medal for services to photographic education. Now when I add that the recipient the year after that was Jacques Cousteau, maker of films of marine life which enthralled millions every week on the TV, and after that Lord Snowdon, revered Royal photographer, and the year before it had been Heather Angel, you can see the illustrious nature of the recipients.
Ron taught in London and had only just retired to sunny Crewe (that may seem incredible but it was, I think, to be nearer to a relative) and joined CPS just before I did in 1999. He soon discovered I was teaching and announced that he had taught for over 60 years! He took up responsibility for the U3A Photography in retirement and only recently gave that up, so his total service to education must have been well over 70 years!
To attend one of his CPS lectures was to experience for yourself what a captivating teacher he would have been for those London children. They would have been well-disciplined but Ron had such a sense of fun and adventure that they must have been really engaged in everything they did. He knew his pupils so well, his talks were peppered with anecdotes of this pupil or that and what they got up to. He knew the value of good preparation too, spending days on his once or twice a week U3A sessions.
Alas, in recent years we have not seen Ron very often at the club. His glaucoma has now progressed to practical blindness and he has suffered a gradual loss of mobility too. He is 94.
Apart from his memorable lectures which we all enjoyed immensely I had a fascinating day with Ron when I offered to take him to the Focus on Imaging a few years back. All the way there and all the way back in the car he regaled me with stories about his times in the army and so on; it was priceless. When we got back he apologised for talking too much. I had had one of the most interesting days I remember, listening to those amazing stories.
Ron has a remarkable collection of photographic items – not particularly cameras but little practical things from the past, like extinction meters and contact frames. I hope that the RPS can arrange for these things to be preserved – perhaps at NMM in Bradford.
Thank you Ron for your great, colourful and memorable contribution to our society.