Posted by: Admin | May 26, 2012

The Saturday Interview 20 – Anne and Simon

Today’s interview is a two-hander – interviewing Anne without Simon or Simon without Anne would be like eating strawberries without cream, or going to Florida without visiting Disneyland – nice, but not quite right.

Having been welcomed by Anne into her lovely Cheshire home, I eye the big, light-filled rooms with anticipation – light-wise it is a photographer’s dream setting. Anne and I have known each other for over 30 years: she is my husband’s cousin, though time and distance have meant that we haven’t see as much of each other over the years as I, for one, would like. I’ve been looking forward to spending this time with her, just the two of us.

Life hasn’t been easy for Anne and husband, Simon over the past few years. The cancer that she beat ten years ago made an unexpected  reappearance last year and whilst, thankfully, she is now once again in remission, the treatment has been exhausting.

“We moved here after I was ill the first time,” she tells me, “because I spent hours walking in the park and it became a very special place for me.”

With illness came the reality of helping her father through his last few months, plus dealing with the shocking death of younger brother, Rick. My abiding memory of Anne at Rick’s funeral was her battling with her wig in the wind at the graveside and laughing, despite everything.  Talking to Simon later, he was clearly shell-shocked, and I remember worrying that there was too much, at that time, on his shoulders.

“But we’re through it now: we survived and life is still good,” Anne says.

Looking after granddaughter, Lyla, one day a week has obviously helped – there’s nothing like spending time with a child to remind us that life goes on. As we walk around Lyme Park, I ask Anne what the future holds for her.

“I want to get back to work, part time, but apart from that, I  just want to enjoy life and make the most of every day,” she says simply.

“Work” involves making chocolates and we head to the family business in the afternoon so that I can shoot Simon for the project. Simon Dunn, Chocolatier, is a real family firm which employs the whole family – Anne, Simon and their children Oliver and Camilla (Lyla’s mum) I knew that the shop in Wilmslow was going to be the best place to capture Simon for, as he says: “I’m always here!”

Simon and I chat as he pours liquid chocolate into moulds and pipes words onto a chocolate shoe. I take my time with my hot chocolate (the best, and believe me, I’ve sampled a lot of hot chocolate!)

“You love being here though, don’t you?” I say. For as long as I’ve known him, talking about his business has always made Simon’s eyes light up. That, and his family – everything Simon does is for Anne and the children. His steadfast, loving support has, I suspect, been a huge component of Anne’s recovery.

“I do,” he concedes, “but I don’t want to be spending so much time on the factory floor now I’m 50. I want to spend my time on consultancy and business development.”

He has torn ligaments in his hip, which makes standing all day particularly painful and he’s looking forward to handing over that side of things to Camilla. Oliver, meanwhile, runs the successful “Chocofrolics” franchise business – chocolate-making parties that have taken the North West by storm.

The whole family are beautiful people, inside and out. On the surface, to an outsider it might look as though they have led charmed lives – close family, nice cars, nice house, successful business. In reality those things have been achieved through consistent hard work, financial risk and emotional resilience through tragedy and misfortune. At the core is the deep love Anne and Simon have for each other.

That love is as apparent today as it was on their wedding day. They plan to celebrate their impending 30th wedding anniversary in the same Yorkshire village where they spent their honeymoon.

After weathering the trials of the past few years I can see that, for now, Anne and Simon are longing for a period of peace. I wish them all the best and trust that life in their fifties will just get better and better.

More photographs of Anne and Simon can be seen on my business blog: Celebrate Life! with Jo Blackwell Photography

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Responses

  1. That is all so beautiful and all so true. I remember Simon so fondly as he was a part of my childhood, then Anne appeared one day and she was just as lovely as Simon .. Lovely family

  2. one of the genuinely nicest family i have had the pleasure to meet. they are truly an inspirational couple. if the world was full of “dunns” then it would be a better place to be. x

  3. Yes, I agree Simon and Anne are a wonderful couple – a great example to all. Marriage can be tough at times and you have to stick together.


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