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Chris Weale
Upper Sixth
East Town

James Partridge — Don’t Let the Way I Look Affect the Way You See Me

James Partridge — Don’t Let the Way I Look Affect the Way You See Me

On Friday Clifton welcomed a former Cliftonian back to the Redgrave to give a lecture on his charity, Changing Faces. Mr Partridge immediately captivated the Sixth Form. His subject was one which has most probably affected many Cliftonians, and he was able to speak passionately about facial disfigurement — something which his organisation has changed for many people and will continue to do so.

Primarily Mr Partridge spoke about the importance of one’s face. More than any other part of the body, it is the area of our body which allows us to express ourselves, and is the first place a human is likely to look at when speaking to someone. He therefore emphasised how damaging a facial injury will be over the course of a lifetime. Following this, Mr Partridge explained just how difficult it has been to treat such problems; especially since technological advances in only the last fifty years have enabled surgeons to make attempts at facial reconstruction. Then Friday’s speaker shocked the Clifton audience with an image of the traumatic accident which he had been part of at the young age of seventeen, towards the very end of his time at Clifton where he had been part of a successful Cricket team. The image shocked everyone. It was an emphatic message to show not only the danger of driving, but also the effect that a facial disfigurement might have on one’s appearance.

Mr Partridge’s presentation then explained to us the process of rehabilitation which he had undertaken. We also saw other types of facial disfigurements which are genetic as opposed to the result of accidents. We had already been introduced to the so-called ‘Elephant Man’ in former years, and when we were shown other such genetic facial problems, it was a poignant moment within the Redgrave Theatre. Image upon image of people — often young — who have been touched by facial changes expressed in no uncertain terms the value of the work done by Mr Partridge’s charity which has achieved £1.5 million worth of help for such people.

Finally Mr Partridge spoke about the reaction of modern society to facial disfigurement. How should one react? His overwhelming belief was that to act normally is the best response. If one were not to speak to someone due to a possible awkwardness over a facial disfigurement it would be just as ignorant as to immediately confront that person about how and why they had suffered the injury. This may seem strange; however Mr Partridge was able to refer to multiple examples in the media where people with facial injuries had been neglected.

The lecture was subsequently concluded with a series of questions from the engaged Clifton audience. These touched upon the media and issues of employment. One particularly pertinent question was regarding facial disfigurements and whether or not they hinder one’s chances of employment. James, unfortunately, agreed that disfigurement did have such an effect. His answer demonstrates how facial disfigurement is still viewed in our society. The prejudicial perspectives towards facial disfigurements are what his charity hopes to eradicate in years to come.

Clifton College would once again like to thank Mr Partridge for his lecture, and hope that he will continue to visit the School in years to come.

8 February 2012

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