Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
Philip Raby, FilmBath Festival organiser
I was born in the same town as Keith Richards (Dartford), and grew up in Kent, before being shipped off to boarding school for 10 years; an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. I recovered slowly in my twenties, and worked as – among other things – a roadie, an au pair, a driver and a sewage farm employee.
In 1977, I visited Bath for the day, and never left. More bizarrely, it turns out that my family lived here for the whole of the 19th century and half the 20th, including a great great aunt who died aged 107 in 1926 in Great Pulteney Street. My dad was born and died here; my mum died here aged 100. Bath is my home, and was – in a sense – even before I got here.
The first proper job I had was working in Harvest from 1978 to 1985, during which time I learned how to run a business and helped turn it into a cooperative. Immediately after leaving Harvest, I started On The Video Front, a film rental shop on Bog Island, which closed in 2012. During that time, I also reviewed films for the Evening Chronicle.
In 1990, I was invited to help create Bath Film Festival (now FilmBath), at that time a modest enterprise, but one which has expanded to become one of the leading film festivals in the country. My main (but not only) job is to programme the festival, something which I take great care over, and enjoy enormously; not least working with a team of other programmers with a variety of tastes. We have just held our 28th consecutive festival.
In 2007, I took over the management of Oscar Windebanks a timber yard in Box, which was owned by Peter Gabriel. Despite knowing very little about timber, I had a great time helping to bring one of the area’s oldest businesses back to life.
Since 2012, I have been part of Bath Bridge, and am always looking for ways to help Bath achieve its full potential. I initiated the Elected Mayor for B&NES campaign, which fell short of its ultimate goal; and now I am involved in BIG, a campaign for independent councillors. I passionately believe that we deserve and need significantly better political leadership at a local level, and we will never have that as long as we rely on national political parties as a source of councillors.
I have lived in various parts of Bath, and now live in Southstoke. I am married, and have two sons who both went to school in Bath. I recently added a grandchild to the family tree.
My passions are friendship, films, music, books, fun, conversation and finding better ways to do things. I read endlessly, listen to The Grateful Dead too much, and teach people how to watch films. I recently gave a TEDx talk at Bath Abbey which scared me to death, but which turned out much better than I expected. My philosophy (which I expounded in the talk) is to say ‘Yes’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’. I try never to take things personally; but I am concerned about the capacity of the human race to ignore the impending calamity of climate change.
I am aware of how fortunate I have been in my life.
PORTRAIT: Neill Menneer at Spirit Photographic.
Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151