Saturday, 1 January 2011

Maura O’Donnell, Merseyside Woman of the Year 2009

Because of the recent snow, I have been reminded of this time two years ago when Merseyside ground to a standstill for what seemed weeks. On the very first day of the snow I had arranged to photograph one of the nominees for Merseyside Woman of the year 2009, a very deserving lady who happily went on to win the nomination by popular vote. As Maura is a keen golfer, we arranged to meet at her club, The Royal Birkdale, and on that morning there was a light, but manageable sprinkling of snow on the ground so we we decided to go ahead with the shoot.

However, as I drove up through Crosby, then Blundellsands, and further, the skies decided to send forth an ever increasing flurry of dry powdery snow. By the time I reached The Birkdale, my car was skidding and the flakes dancing wildly in merriment at us two fools who presumed to think golf was possible.

Of course play wasn't on- the "green" had been closed for Health & Safety reasons, and a straggle of men in the clubhouse eyed us suspiciously, or rather me with my arsenal of photography equipment. Images of Maura teeing off , the golf ball zooming through the air vanished in the swirl of snow outside the clubhouse windows. After it was explained that I was not there to blow the whistle on The Birkdale's innermost secrets, it was agree we could shoot around the clubhouse with caution. It was a bizarre experience, but I am very happy with the photo for it is definitely different, and actually rather pertinent.

Maura O'Donnell is overwhelmingly humble and perennially cheerful. I have known her on a casual level for ten years and I have never seen her put herself above anyone. She is warm and curious, and always asks you about yourself. Unlike so many, me included, she is not in the habit of beating her own drum, though it would be easy to do so.

That is why, when I was shortlisted for Woman of the Year 2008, all I could think of was that the wrong person was chosen.

For instance: I have not invested my money in a company that specializes in clinical nutrition and is literally responsible for easing the lives of countless sick people. Nor have I embarked on a personal project to build a much-needed school in Uganda.

Maura is bright, kind, hard working and extremely moral. If the world was full of Mauras, it would be a peaceful and fun place. There would be no rudeness, no illness, and plenty of love. All children would be nurtured and receive a proper education. Art would be encouraged. Faith too. And of course, golf would be played in all seasons, even if there was snow.