The photographer and former basketball international Graham Bool died of a heart attack at his home on Friday. His sudden death came as a shock to his family and many friends.
Born in Cardiff on January 22nd 1948, Graham Bool worked for a short time in the civil service and as an assistant manager at Dixons before being appointed manager of Agfa-Gevaert’s photographic showroom in Piccadilly, London. After seven years with Agfa Graham moved into PR, working in the film, TV and video industry.
In 1987 Bool became a full-time freelance photographer specialising in paralympic sport. A former member of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball team of the 1970s and ’80s, Bool knew what it was like to compete in international sport at the highest level.
Graham had polio when he was eighteen months old. As a child he wore metal calipers on his legs before learning to walk with a stick in his teens. Later he used crutches, but it was with a wheelchair that Bool found he could work with the greatest freedom.
Graham covered five Paralympic Games – Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing supplying clients that included The Daily Telegraph and the South Wales Press.
“My most memorable recent job was Beijing,” Bool told Paul Carter of Disability Now. “I’d been warned that the Chinese were unhelpful and would look at you and stare. I found the opposite. Everyone was just fantastic. Beijing was memorable, enjoyable and exhausting, but I’d go again.”
Maybe the Chinese recognised Graham as the good man he was. When EPUK ran appeals he was among the first and the most generous contributors. “This dear man,” said photographer Soody Ahmad on the EPUK list, was initially a competitor who became not only a colleague but a mentor.
Graham’s photographs of the Beijing Paralympic Games were exhibited with the work of Tom Griffith, George S Blonsky, and Roger Bool, Graham’s son. The same team were planning to get together to cover the London Paralympic Games. That Graham will not be there in 2012 is a loss to British photography. He is already a loss to EPUK.
Graham’s wife Frances died in 1993. He leaves a daughter Jess (29) and son Roger (26).
• Brian Harris attended the memorial service for Graham Bool which took place on October 5th, 2010. Brian writes “The memorial service held yesterday for Graham Steven Bool at St James the Great Church in his village of Great Saling in Essex was attended by a congregation of way over 500 at my estimation. Despite the rain many stood in the churchyard and listened to the service which was relayed by an outside speaker system as the church was packed to the rafters. The Hymn ‘All Through The Night’ was sung with particular gusto by all who attended, an acknowledgement and celebration of Graham’s Welsh heritage.
“Beautiful words were said for Graham who was so much more than ‘just a photographer’. The new village hall at Great Saling, with its marked out basketball court built under Graham’s supervision will be one of his most lasting legacies.
“A paper plate was piled with high denomination notes which will be distributed to some of Graham’s favourite charities and causes including the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and Welsh Wonders, a pan-disability multi-sports club for young people in South Wales.
Graham, who died far too young at 63 managed to pack more into his life than most, negativity was never an option. A true inspiration to us all. RIP.”
• The International Paralympic Committee salutes a paralympian: Death of Paralympian Graham Bool
• EPUK Showcase: Murderball – Graham Bool, 2008
Photos © Graham Bool & Roger Bool
Text © Graham Harrison
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