Story 51

He certainly made me think

When I left Fleet Street and became freelance, out of the blue Leonard Cheshire contacted me. I had photographed some Cheshire Homes previously, but I had never met Leonard.

Norman Potter's photography from the Philippines

He said to me ‘I’ve watched your career after you visited our homes in Biafra. Now I understand you’re freelance, could you come and do a job for me?’ He wanted some photographs put together.

Leonard had a tremendous sense of humour. He used to tell people, ‘Norman, my friend Norman, he takes the occasional photograph for us. I did try and get Don McCullin but he was too busy, so I had to send for Norman.’ That’s how he would introduce me.

It was fascinating when Leonard talked about things. He told me once about how he and some ex-servicemen bought an island after the war. Spent all their discharge money, whatever it was, because they didn’t like politicians and the way they were going. But after six months they all fell out. When he came back to London, he bought a couple of buses that travelled around the west end in the evenings. They put tea and coffee on tap for prostitutes.

Leonard once asked me, ‘Have you ever come across a situation where a young person has had such a dreadful accident or something has happened in their life, and you could put it into a photograph?’ When I was in the Philippines, we found a girl who was engaged and then her fiancé abandoned her after a motorcycle accident. That’s quite a sad photograph, but he said it would help in the work.

He would have made a good newspaper man and he certainly made me think.

Discover more about Norman’s memories of Leonard on our Rewind website.

It was fascinating when Leonard talked about things. He told me once about how he and some ex-servicemen bought an island after the war.