In his early days as a newspaper photographer, someone rang Len Copland’s office to enquire about a picture.
‘Do you know who took it?’ a colleague asked the caller.
‘That bloke with the mad hair,’ came the reply.
Well, that bloke with the mad hair last night celebrated 25 years in his job.
That’s very much a quarter of a century not out for the lovely Len, now picture editor of the Western Gazette in Yeovil.
Because his zest for journalistic life is utterly undimmed.
It was a privilege to be at the launch of Smile, Please – an exhibition of Len’s work at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil.
And the esteem and affection in which he is held was crystal clear from the 100-plus friends, community leaders, colleagues and ex-workmates who made it their business to be there.
Len may be one of a dying breed inasmuch as he is still employed by a newspaper, and in that he has been on the same title for so long.
But he demonstrates a lust for life that would put many younger people to shame.
He writes, he helps to design pages, and he contributes ideas in a way that I have rarely seen any other photographer do in my 30 years in journalism.
Oh sure, he can be as grumpy as the next man (he works on the next desk to the chief sub, after all) from time to time.
But his precious coffee cup is very much a half full one, and he is simply ridiculously grateful to be able to hold up a photographic mirror to the community he loves.
Listening to his passion for people and their stories last night was to be on the end of some wonderful scientific process, where energy was transferred and warmth generated.
I was proud to call him a colleague and friend, and proud to be in the same business.
If there are marks for commitment, care, character and creativity – not to mention crazy hair, it’s a ten for Len every time.