Category Archives: medical

Thalidomiders – People to Look Up To

It can be truly uplifting when you spend time with people who have to overcome real challenges every day. I spent an afternoon with people damaged by the drug Thalidomide, they call themselves Thalidomiders. It’s not just that your own problems get put in perspective, but something more profound in the spirit and character that these people, have had to find in themselves. My afternoon with the Thalidomide Society was inspirational. Not a word I have cause to use very often.

The Society held it’s AGM in the morning with talks scheduled for the afternoon. I was engaged to photograph the afternoon talks and in particular Heidi Thomas, the Series Producer and writer of BBC TV’s ‘Call the Midwife’ with Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Patrick Turner. The series reached 1961 and tackled the still scandalous issue of Thalidomide damage to unborn babies.  The programme has been commended for it’s sensitive handling and powerful storyline. It seemed to me that Heidi and Stephen we’re glad to have the opportunity of explaining how and why they’d done it, and their audience – people who had and were still struggling – seemed enthralled. Most moving was seeing their reaction to baby Susan, the specially-made animatronic baby with vestigial arms.  Several people wept as they held her, one lady telling me that for the first time she could imagine how her mother must have felt when she was born, and her mother first held her.

It’s not known for sure how many babies were affected by thalidomide. Many miscarried, were still born or died soon after birth. Recently it’s been estimated that over 24,000 babies were born worldwide, 2000 in the UK. Experts estimate that those babies still-born and miscarried because of thalidomide would add a further 123,000 worldwide. Most horrific is the suggestion that these figures would be still greater if they included those babies born alive who became victims of state infanticide. These were never registered.


Trevor Aston Photography is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London with easy access to and from central London and Surrey.


The Medical Journalist’s Association Quiz Night – Event Photography

The Medical Journalist Association ‘s hold a quiz night every year in the Apothecaries Hall in London. It’s a great venue with the darkest wood panelling that absorb light like a deep-space black hole. This was my second year recording the event for them. Perhaps because they write about serious matters, they like to have a good time.

Catastrophe at The Apothecaries’ Hall in London – Event Photography

Ebola, Earthquakes and Medivacs; Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine

Apothecaries' Hall main staircase event photographer Trevor AstonAttentative audince Apothecaries' Hall event photographer Trevor AstonI was the photographer at the Apothecaries’ Hall in London for this event organised by the Medical Journalists Association.  The hall is beautiful and the ancient home of The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.  The talk, organised by the Medical Journalist Association was given in the Great Hall.  Dating from 1671 the Great Hall has fantastic, dark Irish oak panelling with a carved screen at the south end of the room and a minstrels’ gallery at the north end.  Every time I needed to change position to photograph I walked on tip-toes across the very creaky oak floor, but I still sounded like a ghost creeping round a country house in the dead of night!

The Apothecaries’ Hall is also home to the world’s only Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine which trains medical professionals from around the world to respond quickly to natural disasters, outbreaks of disease and battlefield injuries as well as longer-term emotional trauma.  At this meeting chaired by Lawrence McGinty, men and women who tackle some of the most challenging medical emergencies talked about life on the frontline of healthcare.

One of the privileges of being a photographer is getting to see things, getting to hear things or in this case, both!

Professor Richard Williams event photographer Trevor Aston

Professor Richard Williams, an international authority on psycho-social aspects of disasters based at the Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute (HCRI) at Manchester University.

speaker Gillian Dacey Apothecaries' Hall event photographer Trevor Aston

Gillian Dacey, formerly with Public Health England, who has been at the forefront of fighting Ebola and is a specialist paramedic dealing with earthquake victims trapped under rubble.

Air Vice Marshal Aroop Mozumder, Commander, Defence Primary Healthcare, President of the Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine based at the Society of Apothecaries.

Air Vice Marshal Aroop Mozumder, Commander, Defence Primary Healthcare, President of the Faculty of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine based at the Society of Apothecaries.

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.