As a busy working member of the royal family, the Countess of Wessex is used to being photographed at every turn. But one of her most recent portraits was taken during a photoshoot with a difference. Sophie's photographer was 24-year-old James Dunn from Whiston, Merseyside, who has lost one of his arms to skin cancer, a side effect of the debilitating skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB), from which he suffers.
The Countess is patron of the charity Debra, which supports people with the condition across the UK, and invited the young photographer and his parents Lesley and Kenny to Buckingham Palace last month as part of a campaign to help raise £500,000 to find a cure for EB, which causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch.
James Dunn's stunning portrait of the Countess of Wessex
James is trying to photograph as many celebrities for the cause as he can. Together with fellow members of the EB community, he has so far helped raise more than £250,000 for the #FightEB appeal. While he has already snapped the likes of Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland, TV comedian Alan Carr and Hollywood actor Danny DeVito, this was James's first royal portrait and, while he was "extremely nervous", he was quickly "put at ease" by Sophie.
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"I can't thank the Countess enough for giving me this experience," he said. "It's something I'll never forget. The awareness generated by taking this photo is really important and I’m hoping it will inspire more people to support Debra and make a real difference to more people suffering from EB."
Sophie invited the young photographer and his parents Lesley and Kenny to Buckingham Palace last month
Sophie herself said she was "delighted" to help James and support his passion for photography. "I'm constantly impressed by the courage of people suffering from EB, an incredibly painful and debilitating condition," she said.
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"For James to face up to what he is going through and still devote time to raising EB awareness shows exceptional fortitude."
For more information about the campaign, visit debra.org.uk.