WHILE working as a district nurse in Coventry, Simon Watts realised he wanted to do more to enrich the lives of elderly residents.
The former JLR engineer had hung up his overalls and turned to nursing – giving palliative care to patients in sheltered homes – when he noticed a lack of variety on offer to the elderly residents.
Cashing in his savings, the 42-year-old turned his hand to nature photography in the hope of creating films which would whisk viewers away from their pain and off to scenes of natural beauty across the country.
“I have always been passionate about nature, but I sort of fell into nature film-making by accident,” Simon told the Observer.
Growing up in Malawi, Simon found little entertainment in the ex-pat radio station so would spend his time outside amongst nature.
It was here his love of flora and fauna began – even hatching lizards in his bedroom, much to his mother’s distaste.
When working in care homes across the Tile Hill area, Simon would residents stories from his youth and catching the attention of staff at the homes.
“One day the woman who rant the Tea and Talk session, Chris, said she had heard me telling one of my stories and asked me if I would come along and give a talk,” Simon said.
“I was flustered and didn’t really know what to do, but I turned up with a whiteboard and a pen and gave a talk about bird migration – and they seemed to enjoy it.”
Turning down a well-paid job with perks, Simon left his job as a district nurse and bought some semi-professional camera equipment to follow his passion for photography.
He added: “I noticed a lack of variety and stimulation in some of the activities offered to residents, so I decided to make films with my new camera to take in and show them.
“There’s an inherent part of us which loves nature and the outdoors, and it is proven to have a very calming affect over us.
“I get a huge rush from seeing people engaging with my work, and it has been particularly rewarding to see how mild and moderate dementia sufferers respond to the films.”
He is now hoping his latest film about War Memorial Park will inspire all Coventrians to get outside and appreciate their park.
Entitled ‘Late Summer in the Memorial Park’, the film depicts some of the 30 species which call the park home, and was a labour of love for Simon who spent two days and nights in the park shooting, producing and directing the film.
Encouraging people to watch the film, Simon said: “For most Coventrians War Memorial Park is a place for the resident and the city, and shows the evolution of the city since the war.
“Everyone has their piece of the park – whether they are fitness buffs or like to have a coffee – but once they watch the DVD I hope people realise the creatures around them.
“A walk in the park will never be the same again.”
A Late Summer in the Memorial Park DVD can be purchased from Simon directly for £11.99.
Contact Simon by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 02476 016471 to reserve your copy.