The Sam Banks Memorial Fund 2020-2022
First of all we would like to thank you for past and present support for the Sam Banks Memorial Fund. We thought we should keep you informed about how the fund has been doing since covid struck. Its immediate impact back in the spring of 2020 was to require the cancellation of the big music event we had planned in Clapham that May. This denied us an important source of fundraising and it was hard to see how we could replace it, since people could not gather together.
Then Louise had the idea of putting musical clips from past memorial events on Facebook and donations started coming in. Meanwhile Graham had been forced to practice music with John Welton out of doors since neither was allowed in the other’s house. The duo was soon joined by Bruce Ellis, Warwick Downes and Alice Henderson and Louise started filming clips of them all playing together and putting those on Facebook too. They also started collecting from neighbours and passers-by. When it came to make the annual payment to Pathshala all this music had raised £1,143 and a further £171 came from playing carols at Christmas.
Our annual commitment to Pathshala is £5,500 and for the first time in ten years we were well short and had to dip into savings to fulfil our pledge. We realised we could not go on doing that and began to worry that we might have to terminate the fund. Our original commitment, made in 2011, had been to guarantee funding up to 2021. Then Louise, who had started regular swimming in the Exe estuary that October, came up with the inspired idea of a sponsored swim. She swam every day in February 2021 – even when the cliff was festooned with icicles – aiming to average a quarter of a mile a day and complete seven miles over the month. (In fact she swam eight and a half.) The response to this astonished us. She raised £5,680 and the future of the fund was, for the time being, secured.
Since then our most significant fundraising has come from a calendar of stunning pictures by Lympstone photographer, Harley Jaffer. Harley, another wild swimmer, came up with the idea of a local, water-themed calendar to sell at £20 and generously paid for the initial print run of 25. Those sold out quickly and we had more printed. Sixty-eight were sold and the fund gained £930.
During 2022 Louise’s cards and prints raised £396 and she auctioned a painting online for a further £350. Jan and Rupert Grey showed their film Romantic Road in Stedham Village Hall, West Sussex and raised £240. As always, we have been supported by regular donors whose loyalty we greatly appreciate. Standing orders raised £406.
We just reached our target thanks to the surplus from the previous year’s sponsored swim so in 2023 we will need to find another big fund-raising idea.
Since the fund started in 2010 we have handed over a total of £62,300 to Pathshala.
Update on the students;
Since Sam’s death in 2010, the fund has helped to support a total of 40 low income students studying photo journalism at Pathshala South Asia Media Institute in Dhaka. We receive regular updates on their progress along with photography project, work from the institute. To give just a few recent examples of achievements (too many to mention here, after 12 years of student support):
Sumi Khatun – (Anjuman)
Shortlisted for 2020 Women Photographers Grant by PHmuseum.
2020 selected as Ones to Watch by the British Journal of Photography, and one of the Top Photgraphy Graduates to Watch at PHmuseum.
Paris Photo digital masterclass 2022 (one of 4 new talents)
Interviewed on Artists Talks Carte Blanche Etudients 2022 by the director of Picto Foundation and Paris Photo, Vincent Marcilhay
2021 She was selected to show in The Makeable Mind, at the Noorderlicht International Photo Festival.
Soumya Sanker Bose – has gone on to be awarded the prestigious Magnum Foundation and Henry Luce Foundation’s Migration and Religion grant along with a run of exhibitions in New York, Texas, Kathmandu , Kolkatar and Nepal.
Homayra Adiba was a recipient of ‘Equity Grant Winner’ Art prize 2021.
Md. Fazla Rabbi was selected as the British Journal of Photography Ones to Watch 2021 and also awarded a Creation Grant at the Anghor Photo Festival.
Arafat Bin Siraji has been selected to show next year at the 8th Lumix Festival of Visual Journalism for young photographers.
Many of our students have documented the plight of marginalised communities in Bangladesh and around the world. Walid Saddam documented the Rohingya refugee crisis, Abhijit Shuvo photographed the forgotten veterans of the Bangladesh War of Independence, Shadman Chowdhury has photographed the indigenous Santal community who are being evicted from their farm land and homes by the Bangladesh government and sugar mill authorities, Istiak Karim was funded by the Australian government to take part in ‘the politics of aid’ project where he documented the impact and effectiveness of aid on a village in Jhor district of Nepal.
Mrittaker Gain focused on Kalabogi village in Khulna district. Through her images she tells the story of the relationship between the people here, especially women, with the changing environment. Jhulantapara, on the banks of Shibsa, is constantly being submerged under extreme tidal conditions.
These are just a few examples of the brave and bold photo-journalism emerging from Pathshala with the support of the Sam Banks Fund.
We would like to thank all those who have continued giving us support in what has been a very difficult year for fundraising. The number of those giving regularly by standing order has increased this year which gives us a more of a dependable income, and we hope to build on this. The total amount transferred from the Fund to Pathshala since Sam died now stands at £51,300.
We recently paid this year’s £5,500 and have heard back from them that in the coming year this will support seven students: one with a full year’s bursary and six with half year bursaries. They wrote: ‘This time we had received a larger number of applicants than usual as due to the pandemic many of our students are going through financial struggles. Considering the ongoing situation, we have decided to split the bursary into seven students instead of just four students like before as it will provide the support to continue their studies.’
For 2020 our major fund raiser would have been a music event in London, happening on May 6th, organised by Kate and Joe. Unfortunately due to lockdown we have had to postpone this. More information and revised details to follow shortly. Meanwhile to make up for lost income that would have gone towards our annual bursary contributions, we have been raising money on the Sam Banks Memorial Fund Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sambanksmemorialfund
by posting up weekly village street music sessions.
March 2019 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Family,
Heartfelt thanks to you all for your past and continuing support of the Sam Banks Memorial Fund and the vital work of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka.
Here’s a little update on what’s coming up with the fund.
Tanvir Murad Topu, the Head of Photography at Pathshala, will be visiting Graham and Louise in Devon over the weekend of 29th-31st March during his UK lecture tour (he’s speaking in Sunderland, Bristol and Plymouth). Together with Liz Wells (Professor in Photographic Culture, University of Plymouth) – who also lives in Lympstone and has herself lectured at Pathshala – they are hosting a tea reception for Tanvir and his wife at the Lympstone Sailing Club. There will be a short presentation by Tanvir and a display of photographic works by our most recent Sam Banks scholarship students: Hasan Zobayer, Istiak Karim, Omar Faraque and Sounak Das.
Since the inception of the fund a year after Sam’s death, we have provided £40,300 to help support more than 20 low-income Dhaka students through their photography studies. Regular news from the college staff have kept us informed of how they are progressing as well as from friends of ours and Sam’s who have worked at or visited Pathshala, and messages directly from students themselves. Some have gone on to win prestigious prizes, places on international workshops and to work for renowned photography agencies.
2019 is going to be a bit quieter than previous years in terms of fundraising events. We’re scaling back the annual memorial cricket match this summer so that it will just be a cricket match with no frills – no barbecue, bar or live music in the evening this time. We wanted to leave this incredibly special but logistically demanding event on a high and the time feels right to bring it to a close. Thank you to everyone who has helped make it such a wonderful celebration of Sam’s life over the years. This year’s match between the Earl of Rochester’s XI and the Old Duns – teams made up of Sam’s friends, family and teachers – will take place at Bedales School, Hampshire, on Saturday 13 July. You are very welcome to attend, but remember – the only refreshments provided will be for the cricketers’ tea!
After this brief hiatus we want to return in 2020 – the year Sam would have turned 30 – with a bang. We’re planning to take the musical talent and energy on display during those nights in the marquee at Steep and put it on a stage in London for an intimate evening of high-quality live music. If you know of a venue with a bar that might be amenable to hosting this on a weeknight next Spring, please get in touch with Joe or Kate, who are currently scouting for a suitable location. We hope to once again create an event imbued with Sam’s spirit that will also raise the money needed to give these young people in Dhaka a chance of a career that would otherwise be beyond their reach.
Last year’s sudden incarceration of Pathshala’s founder, the photojournalist and social activist Shaidul Alam, only goes to underline the importance of a vigorous media and creative sector in Bangladesh, and a citizenry equipped with the tools to truthfully and effectively reflect their social reality to the rest of the world.
For the latest news about the fund and details on how to donate please visit our website which can now be found at sambanksmemorialfund.org.
We look forward to seeing you all again soon and many thanks again for your support,
The Banks Family