Alumni Award 2014 winner Peter Caton

The Old Scardeburgians’ Association Alumni Award was introduced in 2013. It is awarded on an annual basis to a member of the OSA in recognition of their achievements after leaving Scarborough College. OSA members are invited to submit nominations for consideration by the Committee, who select the recipient for the OSA Alumni Award.

This year’s recipient is Peter Caton.

Peter attended Scarborough College from 1987 to 1992 and was fully involved in the life of the school. Reports describe him as a lively and enthusiastic pupil whose natural exuberance was an asset, particularly where oral work was concerned. Peter could not be described as a high-flying academic and certainly found this side of school life challenging. However, it was – his parents write – the grounding and support he received during his time at the College which has influenced and shaped his life and career to date.

In his final year, everything changed. Ian Parkinson, Head of the Art Department, took Peter’s class on a photography outing. Ian felt that Peter showed some natural ability and encouraged him to concentrate his class time on photography.   This encouraged him to believe that he had the ability to make a career in the subject.

Peter was accepted to study photography at Cleveland College of Art & Design in 1994, where he was the only student to specialise in social issues rather than the more popular sport and fashion programs.
He graduated with a BA (Hons) in Photography in 1998 and determined to make his way as a freelance photojournalist. Peter’s next step was to raise funds to purchase photography equipment, and he spent time working in a club in London where he experienced social issues rather different to those he would encounter later in his career!

In 2000 Peter and his camera set off to explore India. During his travels, he was asked by Greenpeace to document the 18th Anniversary of the Bhopal disaster where 20,000 people died from a toxic chemical leakage. Peter stayed on in Bhopal, living in the slums and focussing his photography on the problems experienced by the women who lived there.  This resulted in a seven page article in various Marie Clare magazines around the world. He then undertook freelance work covering the fight to eradicate leprosy, spending time living in a leper colony in India.  This resulted in three of his photographs being exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Greenpeace subsequently commissioned Peter to act as photographer on the Rainbow Warrior in their Cut Coal Save Climate campaign. Subsequently, Peter committed himself to living out of two rucksacks and basing himself in India as a freelance professional.  More work was soon to come his, way including a study of climate refugees in the Sundarban regions of India which increased his interest in global warming. This work was subsequently.