Downing Street photographer’s five top tips to help you Stand Up To Cancer


A PHOTOGRAPHER often found behind one of the cameras snapping Boris Johnson, fellow politicians and dignitaries outside 10 Downing Street has put himself in front of the lens to urge people to Stand Up To Cancer this autumn.

Ian Davidson, 63, from Brentwood, has shared his five top tips to keep on your feet as everyone is asked to stand up for a day, or for as long as they can, supporting the joint fundraising campaign by Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.

It is a cause close to Ian, having been diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015 and eventually overcoming it by having half his nose removed, and replaced with a graft from his shoulder.

He has now shared some insight into his eight years working as a freelance news photographer, a large part of which has been spent standing in Downing Street covering general elections and changes of prime ministers, two presidential visits, celebrity visitors such as Vivienne Westwood, and more. He has also shared what he has learnt that could help people Stand Up To Cancer:

Avoid temptation!
As a photographer, the seconds it would take to go from sitting to standing could make the difference between a photo that gets seen across the world and one that simply gets deleted. In Downing Street, VIPs can come from several different directions, sometimes at the same time, so you must always be on your feet and alert. When the Prime Minister comes out of the door of Number 10 you have mere seconds to grab a photo. If you think you might struggle with the temptation to sit down, try stacking chairs away or putting things on them.

Who says getting sponsored to stand up can’t be fun?
To me, the beauty of this fundraiser is you can choose how to do your standing. Why not go walking, do some yoga, have a dance or whatever activities you enjoy that keep you on your feet? When I’m photographing London Fashion Week not only do I have to stand to photograph the models, I have to run from one show to another in order to cover as many of them as I can!

Get others involved!
There can be up to 30 photographers in Downing Street on a busy day and, although we’re competing for the perfect shot, there’s great camaraderie. Having a chat and a laugh will take your mind off the urge to sit down. If you can’t get others involved in person, you probably know after the last couple of years how good social media can be for keeping connected. Perhaps let your family and friends know what you’re doing in advance, then share updates at the time. How about an orange wig for your photos? Sequins? Perhaps a Stand Up To Cancer T-shirt? This is obviously a great way to help encourage donations, too!

Keep hydrated and make sure to eat
Over the years I’ve spent up to 10 hours a day in Downing Street. There are no toilets, refreshments or shelter, so I normally take a couple of bottles of water and some fruit to keep me going. Whatever your fuel is, be sure to take it on board.

Get your fundraising guide
If you want more tips, ideas and handy resources I’ve seen there’s a really useful Stand Up To Cancer fundraising guide you can get online at Good luck and well done for supporting such an important cause!

In East Anglia around 36,800 people are diagnosed with cancer every year and in London around 34,100.* Stand Up To Cancer helps to take breakthroughs from the lab and transform them into cutting-edge treatments that could help save the lives of more people like Ian.

Ian had a black mark on his nose for a few years before his wife, Mary-Jane, a nurse with whom Ian has two children, Heather, 18, and Jeremy, 15, noticed it had started to grow and deepen. A visit to Ian’s GP led to a rapid referral and the mark was confirmed as skin cancer. Ian went through a harsh, but unsuccessful regime of chemotherapy and went on to have half his nose replaced.

“The lesson is to always get skin changes checked out,” he said. “I think supporting cancer research is important as new treatments are always being discovered. Although it was unsuccessful, the initial chemo treatment for my nose was an ointment that had been used for something completely different originally, before later being found to work well on skin cancer. The only long-term effects of my treatment are some scarring on my nose and a tendency for the graft to grow hair.”

Ian added: “With charities having been hit so hard by the pandemic, it feels more important than ever for everyone to do what they can to support research and show solidarity, so I hope people in Essex, London and across the country will stand up for me and everyone affected by this devastating disease.”

Getting sponsored to stand up is one of many ways in which people can get behind Stand Up To Cancer as they can also choose to donate, fundraise in their own way or pick from a host of other fun-filled ideas, with free inspiration and support available online. For those who want to take on cancer in style, there is a striking range of clothing and accessories for men and women available from the Stand Up To Cancer shop.

The campaign, now in its ninth year in the UK, has raised more than £84 million, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving over 19,000 cancer patients across the country.

These include the development of new treatments that use viruses to fight cancer, clinical trials testing potentially more effective ways to deliver radiotherapy and improved surgical techniques for bowel cancer.

Michael Jarvis, Cancer Research UK spokesperson, said: ”We’re really grateful to Ian for sharing his insight and story to help us continue our mission. 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime,** but all of us can play a part to help beat it. That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer this October.

“By raising vital funds, supporters could make a real difference to people like Ian. Every penny will go directly to our life-saving research, helping our tireless scientists to develop tests and treatments for those who need them most. If we all stand together, we can save lives.”