Graham Bool represented Great Britain at three Paralympics the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Games before becoming a renowned para sport photographer, covering five Paralympics the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games and national and junior disability Games.


Early Life

Graham Bool was born in Cardiff on the 22nd of January 1948, after contracting polio when he was eighteen months old, he wore metal callipers on his legs before learning to walk with a stick as a teenager. Later he used crutches, but it was with a wheelchair that he found the greatest freedom.

He worked in the civil service for a short time before becoming an assistant manager at Dixons, a photographic equipment supplier. Later appointed as manager of the Agfa-Gevaert photographic showroom in Piccadilly, London, after seven years there, he moved into film, TV and video public relations.

Life as a Paralympic Athlete

Graham represented Great Britain in athletics (Men's 100 m 5, Men's Slalom 5) and wheelchair basketball at the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games. He competed again in wheelchair basketball at the Toronto 1976 and Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games.

Graham chose to retire after his wife Frances gave birth to their children Jess and Roger as he wanted to concentrate on his family.


In an interview for Disability Now, Graham recalled: 

My most memorable recent job was Beijing… I’d been warned that the Chinese were unhelpful and would look at you and stare. I found the opposite. Everyone was just fantastic. Beijing was memorable, enjoyable and exhausting, but I’d go again. With the exception of one or two taxi drivers, all the people running the outfit, the volunteers, the people in the street and people we met who desperately wanted to speak English, everyone was just fantastic.

Tony Sainsbury, former Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball team manager paid tribute to Graham:

This is probably the one occasion when one can truly say the Paralympic Games and Paralympic major sport will never be the same again…. The ever-present telephoto lens was his trademark and he captured for the movement and the individuals concerned the great moments of Paralympic sport. He has left an enormous legacy and a vacuum which will be near impossible to fill.

These sentiments were echoed by people throughout the sporting fraternity, including Sir Philip Craven MBE, who paid tribute to the contribution made by Graham.

A ParalympicsGB statement said:

Graham worked tirelessly to capture disability sport at all levels in his photography. Over the course of his long career he worked at many disability sport events and attended several Paralympic Games as a photographer, including Beijing in 2008. He worked with the BPA often, most recently to photograph Paralympic Potential days.

Recognised by Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland (EPUK) as a generous contributor to their appeals, fellow photographer Soody Ahmad said: 

This dear man was initially a competitor who became not only a colleague but a mentor.

Retirement as a Paralympic Athlete

After his retirement, the British Sports Association for the Disabled (BSAD) approached Graham, asking him to become an official photographer for Paralympic sport. Setting up his photography business, Graham Bool Photography, in 1987, he became a full-time freelance photographer, covering the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

In a 2004 article for the Department for Education and Skills (now Department for Education), Connexions publication, when asked ‘How have you coped with your disability in your work?’, Graham replied 

Being able to hold down a professional job such as a photographer has helped me to overcome the difficulties of being disabled. For example, I cannot take freestanding photographs so I have to devise ways of either bringing my subjects down to my level or propelling myself up to theirs. I have also made portable frames which fit onto chairs and hold a variety of equipment for me at knee level.

Graham is well remembered as the photographer sitting at the end of the basketball court or athletics track capturing sport at its very best.

Graham passed away on the 17th of September 2010, leaving a legacy of his work in the WheelPower archive, read more here.