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July 2024

Janet Elizabeth Cawley (1949-2019)

We have received this very sad news from Ed Cloutman.

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that my partner and best friend of over thirty years passed away peacefully today on 11th November 2019 – Armistice Day. How appropriate that it happened today, close to 11am, a day that meant so much to Jan as every year while she was president of the St Athan WI she would stand at the war memorial in the village while the service took place for all those brave men and women. When she could no longer stand for the service she would listen to it on the television.

Those of you who knew Jan were aware that for over fifteen years she had been bravely fighting polycystic kidney disease and was often in pain, but continued to support photographers in South Wales and the UK.

After qualifying at the Newport College of Art, Jan worked for British Steel which incorporated all types of photography including microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. In 1983 she took over the running of the photographic department in the Plant Science Department (formerly the Botany School) in University College, Cardiff. I was temporarily running the photographic laboratory while I was writing up my PhD, and using the 5×4 plate camera and darkroom facilities to prepare my thesis. When Jan arrived she quickly threw me out, and I had to be nice to her to get my work done! Members of the Department used to laugh as we were always falling out and not speaking to each other. How we lived together for so long in harmony I shall never know.

There was no digital photography in those days or computers. The first PCs were just arriving in the Department – Commodore PETS with small square keyboards. During her time at the College she converted completely to digital and although some of the most important printing was still sent out as digital files to Davies Colour, most was printed internally.

In the amateur field we both joined Rhoose Camera Club and then the Vale Photographic Club where she was chairman for about nine years, and in that time her enthusiasm and competitive drive projected the club to become one of the top clubs in South Wales. She spent hours of her time both at the Club and privately helping members improve their photography.

She won many competitions and awards both internally and internationally with her characteristic work. We often joked because we would go out together and I would be walking miles with my camera, while Jan remained quite close to the car and waited for the shot to come to her, and she invariably came away with a winner! Her international work gained her a FIAP silver distinction, and many of her pictures achieving bronze, silver and gold awards.

In order to promote photography further she joined the committee of the Welsh Photographic Federation where she was awarded an honorary FWPF for her services. She became President of the WPF as well as FIAP Liaison Officer. She became a highly respected International Judge both in Wales and England and was asked to judge the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) APMs (Awards for Photographic Merit). She was also invited by FIAP to judge their competition in Pistoia, Italy.

With her enthusiasm and contacts she revitalised the WPF Convention and although unwell she was still actively supporting Delme Jones over the last couple of years Conventions. She spent many hours and through her vast knowledge of the photographic world organised an interesting and varied programme each year.
Although failing health made travelling to London difficult, she served on the PAGB Committee as the PAGB member for the WPF. She also still judged Internationals in England and Wales and I know will be missed by many of the International judges in the UK. I believe the last International that she judged was the Bristol Salon.

As well as myself and a lot of fellow photographers she will be greatly missed by her son Alex, daughter-in-law Caroline, granddaughter Elsa and grandson who is due in two weeks time.

Ed Cloutman

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