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In this series, some of our best known photographers and contributors recall some of the most memorable moments in their career.
It was September 15th, 2009 when Director of Photography Bette Lynch and I decided we would head to Dundee to cover the funeral of 24 year-old Black Watch soldier Kevin Elliot who was killed by a rocket attack in the Babaji district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
Unknown to me and the gathered media, three years prior to the infantry man being killed, Kevin and his best friend Barry Delaney, had agreed that Delaney would wear a dress, the brighter the better, if Elliott was killed in action.
So you can imagine the reaction when Delaney turned up to the graveside wearing a skin tight lime green fluorescent dress with pink leg warmers and black hiking boots.
No one was expecting this; some of the press pack didn’t know what to think. I’m not sure if anyone realised whether Delaney was a friend or just someone who had drunk too much vodka at a local hostelry.
It wasn’t until Barry started weeping on his knees during the service for Private Elliot that I realised there is a special meaning for this young man to turn up for this sombre occasion at Barnhill Cemetery squeezed into a five pound Primark dress.
Shortly after the service an army spokesman informed us that the two friends had promised each other whoever died first, the other one would wear a pink dress with green spots to the funeral. Delaney could not find the pink dress so he chose the green one and added the pink socks to make the outfit look sillier.
Barry described his friend as a “true hero” and was proud to have known him, I’m sure his friend and the hundreds of mourners who attended that September day would have wanted him to keep the promise the two had made to each other.
90788017. DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Barry Delaney kneels weeping as mourners gather at Barnhill Cenetery for the funeral of Black Watch soldier Kevin Elliot on September 15, 2009 in Dundee, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.
About Jeffrey Mitchell
Jeff Mitchell was born in Milton, Scotland in 1970. Jeff has been a photographer for 19 years starting out on the Helnsburgh Advertiser and progressing to the Edinburgh Evening News and Glasgow Herald. He also worked for Reuters before taking up a staff position for Getty Images in 2006 as a news photographer based in Scotland.
Assignments have varied over the years from covering the recent World Cup in Africa for FIFA, travelling on the Labour battle bus during the 2010 general election following Gordon Brown and features like Lairg Lamb sale the largest one day sale in Europe and Up Helly AA Viking festival on the Shetland Isles.
He has also been involved in many UK international news stories such as the funerals of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother, the Foot and Mouth outbreak and the multiple murder of 16 school children at Dunblane primary in March of 1996.
He has been recognized with a number of awards including World Press Photo – 1st Place Nature and Environment Stories, two times winner of the British Picture Editor Awards Photographer of the Year, British Picture Editor Awards Royal Photographer of the year, British Picture Editor Awards Business and Industry Photographer of the Year. Two times winner of the Nikon Regional Photographer of the year, two times winner of the British Press Gazette regional press photographer of the year and Scottish Sports Photographer of the year. Scottish News Photographer of the year in the Scottish Press Awards 2011
Jeff currently lives in Alexandria with his wife Lyn and two sons Finlay aged ten and Callum aged seven.
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