Nyla Sammons: Blog https://www.nylasammons.com/blog en-us (C) Nyla Sammons (Nyla Sammons) Sat, 06 Mar 2021 18:19:00 GMT Sat, 06 Mar 2021 18:19:00 GMT https://www.nylasammons.com/img/s/v-12/u810369766-o896936165-50.jpg Nyla Sammons: Blog https://www.nylasammons.com/blog 120 80 International Women’s Day Photo Project - Celebrating My Hero https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2021/3/iwd/celebratingmyhero True heros don't have to wear capes, run marathons or have superhuman strength. For International Women's Day this year, I wanted to celebrate the incredible women who inspire others, not just for their seemingly superhuman abilities, but for their inner strength and courage. I asked 7 people to nominate their heros and give authentic and personal accounts as to why they are inspirational to them.

In this photo series, I have tried to capture the admiration, respect and love that was so apparent in their stories of strength, courage and dedication. You can view the photos and read their stories below.

 

Dr. Amy Legister

Nominated by father Carl Legister

Ever since Amy was young she always talked about becoming a doctor. I'm so proud that what she wanted to do with her life, she set her mind to it and achieved it. She is an intelligent, mentally strong and determined young lady. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 it has been troubling times for all, with changes on how we live, work and the pressures on the health services. I was worried for Amy working on a Covid-19 ward back in March 2019 and when she caught the virus, l was distraught. She's recovered now, but l still worry for her wellbeing.

She has coped amazingly well despite there being worrying moments of uncertainty that she has had to confide in me about. I am honoured that such a compassionate, hard working and strong person is my daughter.

 

 

Rhiannon Graham

Nominated by girlfriend Jordan Crowley

Rhiannon has the most amazing ability to go with the flow, never getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future. She’s always been this way and it’s just her natural state of being. As someone who has spent my life suffering from and trying to control my anxiety, I am in complete awe of her ability to say ‘fuck it’ in any situation. It makes me feel incredibly safe because I know we will always be ok. I know this because she knows we will.

She laughs at my hippy ways, recently I qualified as a yoga teacher but she is possibly the biggest yogi I know. According to the school of Patanjali, the definition of yoga is “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”, which means “Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind”, essentially being entirely present and free of distracting thoughts, being truly mindful. This to me is the hardest part of yoga and something I don’t think I’ll ever achieve, but Rhiannon completely embodies it.

 

 

Anita Lakhan

Nominated by friend Carol Jairam

Anita and I met in 1993 whilst training to be nurses. We discovered that we were both from Trinidad and Tobago, and our friendship grew from then to the present day. As a friend she is loyal, supportive, trustworthy, funny, honest and intuitive. These qualities have sustained the friendship over the years. As a nurse in the NHS, Anita has worked in a variety of care settings such as orthopaedic surgery, high dependent and promoted to manage a busy surgical ward in a London hospital. She also worked in the ICU as a sister. Her current post is as a site practitioner where she is working autonomously to support services and staff.

I nominate Anita because of her unfailing loyalty to the NHS, advancing nursing and using all skills to uphold the integrity required in healthcare. Her resolve in the face of many hostile obstacles in the NHS never wavered. She has executed her role with aplomb, professionalism, true grit and always a nurturing smile. A true friend and a worthy exemplar of a modern day nurse in the NHS.

 

 

Bianca Hines

Nominated by son Imari Samuels

Despite having me at the young age of 18, my mum has sacrificed and worked hard to give me the things I have needed and sometimes wanted. I’m incredibly thankful for her giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams and aspirations of being a professional footballer. Allowing me to express myself, my character and my opinions my mum has instilled in me the dedication, work ethic, confidence and resilience needed to succeed.

From driving all around the UK, and even as far as Italy for competitions, to coaching me to handle the disappointments of loosing, my mum has always put me first whilst still achieving her own goals. Just over a year ago I signed my first contract. I would not be in this position if it were not for my mum’s hard work and dedication. Without her I would not be living my dream of being a professional footballer at the age of 17.

 

 

Claire Coveney

Nominated by husband Laurence Pawling

I am very much inspired by my wife, Claire, she always puts her friends and family first - Claire's raison d'être is to care for and look after others, and will always place their interests and feelings before her own.

She has been through a number of losses in life, but has always come through fighting, positive, and determined to look to the future.

 

陈惠诊 (Chen hui zhen)

Nominated by grandaughter Michelle Liu

My Grandmother is the absolute representation of strength to me. She grew up in a war torn era, her dad shaved her head to make her look like a boy to avoid rape. Fast forward to her husband being killed by a bomb and widowed when she was in her early 20s with a baby girl. It’s crazy to think that this was during the 50’s in a very reserved China.

She went on to remarry and have 3 more girls but sadly she was widowed again due to her husband’s ill health. Through all of this she never gave up, she went through so much trauma and sadness yet she still had a phenomenal amount of love to give. She’s strong but with kindness of heart and demonstrated an unlimited amount of empathy towards others as well as forgiveness to those who have hurt her. Although she’s no longer with us, her legacy continues in my aunties, my mum and myself. I learn from all her qualities and she helps me to be a better person.

 

 

Alice Stothart

Nominated by mum Clare Stothart

At two years old my daughter Alice was diagnosed with cancer. As part of her treatment, she had to have her eye removed, chemotherapy, various other treatments, and tens of general anaesthetics, up until the age of six. In spite of the treatment and a long ongoing recovery process, Alice has always thrown herself into life with such energy and vibrancy. She has never let the difficulties and prejudices presented by having one eye stop her from achieving her goals and dreams.

Her determination, bravery, creativity, kindness and loyal heart means she is my daily inspiration and I am in awe of this beautiful young woman who I have the honour of calling my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2021/3/iwd/celebratingmyhero Sat, 06 Mar 2021 17:12:47 GMT
Portrait of Britain 2020 Winner https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/10/portrait-of-britain-winner

Absolutely delighted to be one of the winners of Portrait of Britain 2020! 

My photo of Emma Kirk Odunubi was chosen, a photo from my Tough Women in Sport and Adventure portrait series, which I release for International Women's Day in 2020, which was exhibited in Canary Wharf. You can see all of the images here - https://www.nylasammons.com/toughwomen

If you meet Emma, you will find her to be warm, friendly, with a chilled outlook on life, but she is strong, persistent and fierce! Emma started taking on sporting challenges for charities after multiple family members died from cancer. Across four years she has completed an indoor Iron Man, four marathons, ten half marathons and perhaps most notably, 24 hours of burpees. 

The photo has been displayed on JC Decaux screens across the UK in the months of September and October. The photo has been spotted about on bus stops, in train stations and shopping malls, my favourite place to see the photo was Kings Cross St. Pancras. 

You will find the photo published in the Portrait of Britain book Vol. 3, which was published earlier this month by Hoxton Mini Press. 

 

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/10/portrait-of-britain-winner Wed, 21 Oct 2020 19:42:47 GMT
Walkers of The Horniman at Lockdown https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/walkers-of-the-horniman-at-lockdown

I’m walking through the Horniman Gardens with my boyfriend on our allocated daily walk during lockdown. A heady cocktail of emotions wash over me as I think about how much my life has changed over the past few weeks. Not being able to see friends or family, to travel freely throughout London and as the need for freelance portrait photographers melts to zero, I was stripped of not only my career, but also of my passion.

I was appreciative of the beauty and quietness the Horniman Gardens gave me, to ponder my situation, calm my anxiety of not knowing when my next job would be, and to try and find a creative outlet. Then it dawned on me, this is only my version of what visiting the Horniman Gardens means at this time. Each person I walk past has their own motivations, and reasons to be here and I became intrigued to find out what they were. That spark of intrigue became an idea for a portrait series, I wanted to photograph people walking through the park during lockdown and to find out what brought them to the Horniman and how they were coping during lockdown.

A place to connect with loved ones, a source of creative inspiration, or simply somewhere to stay sane, I share with you what the Horniman means to some of it’s lockdown visitors. All walkers were approached with care at over 2 meter distance.

The Walkers

Lloyd - The Proud Dad

Facing the closed pathway to the park’s victorian conservatory, Lloyd was found excitedly talking about the beautiful glass building to a young man standing over 2 meters away from him. 

Lloyd beamed as he explained what a nice wedding venue it would make. Recognising and abiding by social distancing measures, Lloyd was taking a walk with his son Nathan who he had not seen for weeks on end. The sunny stroll granted him the opportunity to wish Nathan a face-to-face Happy Birthday for the previous day.

“Because of Lockdown, I’ve been indoors most of the time. I thought it would a waste of a nice day not to come out and enjoy nature”

Nathan - The Birthday Boy

As his proud father Lloyd beamed about being able to safely see his son for the first time in weeks, for Birthday boy Nathan, this was also a joyous time to see his dad and a chance to break up the tedium of lockdown.

The most difficult part of lockdown is the monotony of it all. The days start to feel the same”

The walk had provided Nathan with a respite from the boredom of lockdown and had re-ignited his fondness for the park.

“It’s rare to have such a beautiful space like this on your doorstep, you’ve got the animals to see, the flowers and the views, it’s such a nice place”

Layla and Paul - The Explorers

Layla has been visiting the Horniman since before she was born, when dad Paul and her expectant mother would come for daily walks to the gardens. Spotted taking her dad Paul for their daily walk on a sunny afternoon, Layla has made sure that the lockdown doesn’t kill this tradition.

Layla’s favourite parts of the Horniman have changed and developed over the years, originally preferring the animals and museum. During the first few days of lockdown, Layla would walk towards the entrance to the museum and try to get in. As the building has closed to the public during lockdown, she has started to explore - and fall in love with -  other parts of the grounds, such as finding places in the bushes to hide.

Paul has found that people’s attitudes haven’t dampened due to the lockdown and in some ways have enhanced Layla’s social life.

“Everyone has been much friendlier, and there are lots of other children of a similar age to Layla who she makes friends with at a 2 meter distance”

Toby, George and Ada - The Hobbyists

Proud father George told us that he brings his children here to entertain, exercise and “wear them out so they nap properly”

The Horniman allows Ada and Toby a safe place for them to fulfil some of their many hobbies. Like Frederick Horniman himself, Ada is a keen finder and collector of items such as bouncy balls and snails. On the day we met Ada - she proudly exclaimed she had “found the sky.”

“I found the sky” - ADA

Ada’s other favourite activities in the park include, playing music, hide and seek and running, whereas Toby takes a more chilled view of things, preferring to kick back in his pushchair and take in the views. It was clear from talking to the family that - aside from the lack of ice-cream - lockdown hadn’t affected their experience of the park in the slightest.

Once thing was for certain, with Toby and Ada’s passions combines, it would be George taking that nap later.

Richard - The Artist

Gingerly approaching people for their portrait and story at a time of social distancing felt awkward at first but the overall response was extremely positive. One man made the job of approaching easy for me. Whilst scouring the area around the bandstand, a friendly voice from behind us called “I’ll do it”

Artist and photographer Richard - another frequent visitor and friend to the Horniman - is normally at the museum and gardens to test out his camera equipment.

“The Horniman has landscapes, distant views, animals, people, well kept gardens and museum artifacts. This variety is perfect to test out my various equipment ”

Through comparing notes on equipment, lighting and techniques, it soon became clear that Richard wasn't carrying his photo gear.

“Recently I’ve not been bringing my camera, I’ve just been walking here a lot as it keeps me sane”

It was then that it started to become clear, these spaces are not merely places to view or conduct hobbies, they play a vital role in people’s health and wellbeing, particularly at times like this.

Caroline and Michael - Philosophers

In January before Covid-19 took hold, The good spirited Caroline and Michael had been passing through the Horniman Gardens as part of the green chain walk. Four months later, recalling the lovely food market they had stumbled upon that day, the pair had extended their daily walk in Dulwich park to revisit the Horniman.

A place where he used to bring his daughter, Michael was reflective of the important role green spaces such as the Horniman play, particularly during the pandemic.

“What you realise in such an urban area such as London, is that during lockdown, you need the green spaces more and more. Through the difficulty of lockdown, we have been fortunate to have a closer feeling to the ruralness that lies within London” - MICHAEL

There was a real sense of optimism around how people’s lives and behaviours are being impacted by the power of London’s greenery.

“The people - like me - who would normally post tiddle taddle on social media, are now turning to pictures of nature” - MICHAEL

The Horniman’s role in encouraging this connection to nature was clear as Caroline pointed out her favourite areas of the park, from the views on the hill to the varied pockets of gardens.

“People can have a second education on the greenery and birds, and the Horniman has a lot of information on those things” - CAROLINE

Michael left me with a reassuring summary of the health benefits of walking through the Horniman,

“Through walking you can eat and drink as much as you like and remain the same weight” - MICHAEL

Juraj and Rich - Tree Guardians

Admittedly the title of the project is “walkers” not “workers” of the Horniman but the dedicated people who work at the Horniman play an important role in making it a special place to visit. And workers also walk through the Horniman, even on their days off.

Security Juraj and garden keeper Rich were at the pavilion on this particular day to record a podcast about the trees in the Horniman for the Urban Tree Festival 2020.

Unable to dig any deeper into the top secret podcast, Juraj was able to shed some light on how lockdown, and the tighter rules has affected people’s behaviour in the park.

“Most people have been behaving themselves and abiding by the rules”

Sum - Tree lover

About 2 months before we spotted Sum in an almost crab like pose, he was passing through the Horniman gardens on a daily run, when he spotted one of his true loves, the large and beautiful Cedar tree facing the prehistoric garden. Since then, the tree has become a regular spot for Sum to practice his animal flow - a mix of Yoga, Capoeira and Pilates, and has continued to become his spot for daily exercise.

“Everything here just seems...right” I can come here and practice some TRX, practice some animal flow, once I’m in my spot it’s easier to keep my distance whilst practicing”

This has allowed Sum to get his recommended daily exercise and also learn other people’s stories. Once day, sat in his usual spot, he noticed a lady approach a man sat on the bench opposite the tree and - at a safe distance, asked if she could touch the bench. Bemused and not hearing properly through his headphones, the man left. The lady was joined by her husband and Intrigued, Sum sparked up a conversation. He learned that the bench was a memorial to the couple’s son, who passed away last year in Croatia. This resonated with how Sum’s Dad passed away suddenly.

"It was nice how the father liked to talk about his son, and you could see how proud he was"

Sum now has a new relationship with the benches, always taking time to read the stories and of course, he has his favourite tree.

“One of my buddies asked me “How’s your girlfriend?” “What are you talking about I said…”Your tree?” he replied.

David - The Guardian

Wondering what to do with a set of keys we had found lying on the ground, David appeared to the rescue in his Park buggy to keep the keys in a safe place. Chatting to garden keeper David, revealed the important role the park has played for mental wellbeing, for workers and visitors alike.

The first few weeks of lockdown were tough for David who had to self isolate with his family for 14 days as his baby had a fever. David realised how fortunate he was to return back to work when your office is the gardens of the Horniman.

“Coming back here has been great, some of my friends are indoors on zoom, but I think I would go crazy being indoors all day”

Understanding how hard it can be on his wife, at home and furloughed, grandmas unable to visit and nurseries shut, David brings his family here. Despite it not being their nearest park he still visits on his days off as a place for them to come and rest. Not a lot of people can have the same connection to their workplace.

David’s interactions with visitors to the Horniman reveals how important it is to the community as he recounts how more people say “thank you, we love the gardens” or enquire about the opening hours. During the lockdown, the hours were shortened to protect both visitors and the workers. As if his pride in the Horniman wasn’t already clear through our conversation, he ended with the words.

“It’s a privilege to work here”

Mohamed - The Musical Teacher

With a smile as warm and infectious as his look, Mohamed showed us how the energy of the park can be harnessed and taken away to inspire others. 

The West African musician, dancer, storyteller and teacher frequently visits the gardens as a source of inspiration. He comes for the headspace to think about the next thing he will practice when he returns home.

On this particular day, whilst fasting, Mohamed had come to the Horniman looking for inspiration for challenges to set. He had been creating dance and musical challenges to provide his students and friends, and keep them busy during the lockdown.

“It’s good to come here to lift you up as it’s hard for people to be in one space for too long”

Jas, Wynston and Rhys - The Family

Tentatively re-emerging after a long period indoors, this young family were out to throw a frisbee and test the waters of outdoor life.

As Covid-19 gripped the world, Jas had the unfortunate news that her dad had contracted the virus and had to be hospitalised. This scary period had prompted them to be quite rightly strict with themselves and remain indoors, with only short visits outside for exercise.

“We’ve been quite militant about staying indoors as my dad contracted Covid-19 and we thought the worst - JAS”

Having been cooped up in a flat together, through sunny days and even Winston’s birthday, as rules began to slightly relax the family were enjoying their first group outing in a park albeit with hesitation.

“It still feels a bit weird, we’ve had 10 minutes to throw a frisbee about but we’re not sure if we should be” - RHYS

Being close by Jas, Winston and Rhys didn’t feel as “naughty” coming to the Horniman for their first family trip back outside into nature. The smiles on their faces indicated that this would be the first of many as the local residents try to regain some form of normality.

The good news is that Jas’ dad beat the virus and made a full recovery.

Alison, Cora and Tess - Nature Lovers

No-one looked more comfortable in their stride through the park than Tess and for good reason. She has been coming here for her morning walk since she moved to the area as a puppy, 7 years ago and now considers it an extension of her back garden.

Whereas Allison loves to visit the seasonal sunken and grass gardens, The dogs Cora & Tess prefer the trees and squirrels.

Carol - The first Timer

Visiting a friend to say hello and take a 2 meter distanced bike ride and walk, this was Carol’s first ever visit to the Horniman. New to London at a strange time, the daily exercise allowance was a chance to get out on her bike and explore somewhere new.

Being young in London, there are a bunch of things you miss because of lockdown

“I’m by myself all the time,  can’t see my friends, can’t travel, can’t go clubbing or visit museums”

For Carol, it was nice just to get outside, ride and see somewhere new.

Rick - The Collaborator

As a northerner living in London for the past 9 years, it had always been important to Rick to be close to friends and have that feeling of community and support. It was therefore an odd choice for him to leave most of them who live in North and East London and move south of the river to Forest Hill.

Longing for an area which had access to green space, nature, a hideaway from the chaos of the city, but still with a strong connection to the pulse of London, Forest Hill ticked all the boxes for Rick and the Horniman played part in the decision to move.

“Having visited years before moving, I fell in love with the layout, the serenity and the community feel of the park. Since then it has played so many roles for me. A companion on the days when friends are not instantly accessible, a haven to relieve stress - by just being in it’s gardens, a place to bring friends and family, a place to be inspired by the musicians and dancers who perform at the band-stand, a place to learn, a place to impress dates”

The last date Rick brought here was so impressed, she moved to the area and into Rick’s flat and is now as in love with the Horniman as much as he is. That girl he's talking about is me. 

It has given us a safe haven during lockdown to get his daily exercise and look after our mental health.

“On one of our daily walks, my girlfriend, a photographer unable to work, and intrigued by the people walking through, became intrigued as to what their stories were. Together , we started this project to find out.”

And so the Horniman continues to provide inspiration.

To view all images from this portrait series visit: www.nylasammons.com/walkersofthehorniman

 

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/walkers-of-the-horniman-at-lockdown Tue, 26 May 2020 13:46:40 GMT
Tough Women in Sport and Adventure https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/tough-women-in-sport-and-adventure I created a portrait series of ten Tough Women in Sport and Adventure, telling the stories of strong women who have gone beyond the ordinary to push boundaries and break world records. I was motivated to begin the portrait series after photographing Kiko Matthews, who in 2018 broke the world record for being the fastest woman to row the Atlantic solo (I had photographed her press shots back in 2017). Inspired by her achievements, I wanted to celebrate her success and determination, along with nine other incredible women like her and this was the birth of Tough Women in Sport and Adventure. I also wanted to inspire a new wave of adventures and those that wanted to achieve their goals  and dreams.

I created two portraits of each woman, one in a studio environment and the other taken on location, to capture the story of each woman. The photos were exhibited in the Crossrail Place roof garden in Canary Wharf in March 2018.

Below are some of the photos and to view all the photos, you can visit: www.nylasammons.com/toughwomen

Kiko Matthews

Pip Stewart

Ruqsana Begum

 

Photos from the exhibition

I worked with Film maker Nathalie Baker, who directed and filmed a documentary on some of these women, which you can see below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video of the launch of the exhibition, the screening of the film and Q and A sessions with the Tough Women

 

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/tough-women-in-sport-and-adventure Sun, 24 May 2020 13:57:25 GMT
Kiko Matthews: World Record Breaker https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/kiko-matthews-world-record-breaker

Kiko Matthews is one Badass of a woman and an absolute inspiration, she recently proved how you can overcome a life-threating illness and live life to the fullest which entails great challenges.

Kiko survived a rare life-threating condition called Cushings disease, diagnosed in 2009, caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland. It was a long and hard battle to get better and thankfully she came out on the other end smiling thanks to the treatment received from Kings College hospital.

Most people would have given their doctors a bunch of flowers and chocolates, but not Kiko. She set a target to raise £100,000 for Kings College hospital and the challenge would be to row the Atlantic solo and become the fastest female to row the Atlantic.

On the 22nd March 2018, Kiko Matthews made history and indeed broke the world record and become the fastest woman to row across the Atlantic ocean solo and unsupported. We are all extremely proud and word has it she is already training for  another challenge.

 

I had the privilege of photographing Kiko, before her challenge began, there are some more photos on my website, which you can see here – www.nylasammons.com/lifestyle 

You can read more of Kiko’s story on her website – http://www.kikomatthews.co.uk

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/kiko-matthews-world-record-breaker Sun, 24 May 2020 13:02:09 GMT
Alzheimer’s Research UK https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/alzheimer-s-research-uk It was great to work with the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK and creative agency Aardman to photograph celebrity Rachael Riley, who is also a brand ambassador for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The photos were for their recent advertising campaign for The Mighty Quiz, a great way to raise money to help the charity fund the best research that will take us closer to effective diagnostics, preventions and treatments for dementia.

The photos featured on their website:

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(Nyla Sammons) https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/alzheimer-s-research-uk Sun, 24 May 2020 12:58:35 GMT
CHILDREN OF HOPE https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/children-of-hope

I traveled to Bogota in Colombia to photograph a children’s charity to document underprivileged children who have been affected by poverty, civil war and drugs. These children were given hope when the founder, Mama Esperanza of charity Fundacion Colombia Chiquita opened her arms to let them in.

The children I met were in high spirits and full of character, you could see this reflected in the care and love they were given. Of course they are not like this everyday and they have to deal with the hardship they are living with, but this is where Mama Esperanza (Mama Hope) along with her volunteers does there very best in helping and nurturing these children.

I was very happy that The Independent published the story of ‘Children of Hope’ and published my photos. You can see the magazine article below and this is the link to the website article – http://ind.pn/2aAtQJt

 

(The Founder Mama Hope in the middle with the pink dress).

A humbling experience to be surrounded by Mama Hope and the children, to hear their unfortunate stories and be surrounded by their love and affection after pulling through such difficult circumstances.

The article from The Independent

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(Nyla Sammons) american bogata charities charity childrens Chiquita Colombia Fundacion nyla sammons south https://www.nylasammons.com/blog/2020/5/children-of-hope Sun, 24 May 2020 12:39:34 GMT