Guernsey Festival of Photography

The Festival has opened and what a packed month of events it will be. I encourage everyone to visit as much as possible and take the opportunity to get involved and especially attend the lectures by some of the world's greatest photojournalists. Catch up with the full timetable of events at

I am honoured to also have an exhibition to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Guernsey's Liberation. My show is on the railings around the Town Church, I photographed people who actually lived through the Occupation in the Island. Each image is accompanied with a few words about each person's memories of that difficult time.

The text that introduces the exhibition is reproduced below, together with a few of the images on show. Hope you enjoy these and go to see the rest.

"Occupation Recollections - A Series of Portraits"
by Nick Després FRPS

Nick is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and is a local professional photographer who specialises mainly in weddings. He was delighted to be invited to have his own exhibition as part of the festival on the theme of the Liberation, his own family history gave him a strong connection and understanding of that time. Doreen Bichard and Desmond Tostevin, both featured in this exhibition, are relatives on his father’s side. In addition Juan Alarcon was a good friend of Nick’s grandfather. The latter was a Polish national who had settled in Guernsey after fighting for the British forces in the war. The first time he saw his daughter, Nick's mother, she was 18 and had being allowed to leave to settle in the Island. His own family's plight gave him an appreciation of the subjects' hardship throughout the Occupation.

Nick said it was quite moving to meet and photograph the subjects for this exhibition, he gained a lot personally from this project. He is keen to continue to photograph people from this period, please contact Nick if you would like to take part.
Please take your time to view the images on display, and appreciate the hardships that people living through the Occupation faced.

Juan Alarcon - fought against General Franco in the Spanish Civil War, but was captured and brought to Guernsey as a slave worker by the Germans. Enduring atrocious conditions, he also lost part of his hand. Many of his compatriots in his division were massacred by the Germans after being taken to Austria. Juan managed to stay in Guernsey, married and worked as a farmer. The picture he is holding shows him as a 17 year old soldier in Spain, he is 91 this year.

Doreen Bichard – wonders how her Mother coped with caring for the children. She left school at 14 and worked as a children’s nanny. She recalls that many goods were bartered for with tea being a precious commodity to barter with. Also a vivid memory was the pitiful state of the slave workers that used to be transported in railway trucks past where she lived at Les Vardes.

Desmond Tostevin – as a boy of 14 when the war ended Desmond says that he did not feel the responsibility and worry that his parents had. He recalled that during the initial air raids on Guernsey he was in a fishing boat off the west coast, they were fired upon and had to run the boat aground amongst rocks where they hid, pertrified. A bullet was lodged in the bow of the boat. Tragically he lost an uncle in 1941 who was part of a fishing trip that was shot at in Saint’s Bay, the exact circumstances are still not clear or fully disclosed.

Madeline Sims – worked as an assistant in the Bailiff’s office. She used to listen to her crystal set at home and would record the news. At huge personal risk she would provide typed copies of this and would brief the Bailiff daily. Madeline and her husband would print up what they had heard and distribute these as part of the Guernsey Active Secret Press. The consequences of discovery would have been extremely severe.

Roy Burton – had to work hard on the family farm, he was 14 at the end of the Occupation. A German soldier who had tried to use one of their fields for grazing his horses ended up becoming a life long friend, helped out around the farm and sometimes ate with the family. Roy wrote to his friend Rudolf, “when we first met we were classed as enemies in the 1940-1945 war and now we are as close as brothers after being friends for 67 years”.