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Thanksgiving - Gazette photographer Colin was the best of the best

The Best – that’s how former Gazette and Herald chief photographer Colin Kearley was described at his funeral service.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Colin Kearley Colin Kearley

Mr Kearley died, aged 73, on July 13, just nine days after he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

More than 200 people – family, friends, former colleagues and people he had photographed in Devizes – were packed into St James’ Church, Devizes, the same church where he married his wife, Marian, in 1967.

Nigel Kerton, the Gazette’s long serving Marlborough and Pewsey reporter until he retired last year, paid tribute to Mr Kearley at the thanksgiving service last Friday.

Mr Kerton said Mr Kearley, of Church Walk, Devizes, was a “big hearted and veritable giant of a man” in the way he always showed concern for others.

Mr Kearley’s dedication to his job with the Gazette often resulted in him working long hours but the time he spent with his wife and sons, Stephen and Garry, were precious.

He was also a doting grampy to his five grandchildren.

When he started his career Mr Kearley worked with photographic plates and as technology progressed went on to rolls of film and finally digital cameras.

He photographed all the members of the modern royal family and even managed to get photos of Princess Anne smiling.

Mr Kerton said Mr Kearley’s professionalism could be relied upon to get the best photographs from any situation.

He said: “His obvious love for his work and his ability to make every one of his subjects feel special made them easier for us reporters to interview.

“And we could always be confident that if we overlooked an important question, Colin would drop it in at the end.

“He was not just a colleague but to all who worked with him a very close friend.”

Originally from Ealing, Mr Kearley was one of three brothers who moved to Wiltshire with his family in the 1950s and he began working at Signcraft in Swindon until his work caught the eye of photographers of the Swindon Advertiser and he was offered a job.

He started with the Gazette & Herald on November 5, 1963, and retired ten years ago.

In retirement he undertook occasional jobs for the Gazette, including being at the Olympic torch relay in Marlborough last year.

Mr Kerton said that Mr Kearley was unforgettable.

“There is a word reserved for special people like Col – doyen, which means he was the best of the best.

“The very best husband, dad and grampy; the very best at his work and the very best as a friend,” he said.

The Lord’s My Shepherd and Lord of all Hopefulness were the hymns sung and his son, Garry, gave a Bible reading from Ecclesiastes.

Mr Kearley specifically requested that he go on alone to West Wiltshire Crematorium, Semington, for the cremation.

At the conclusion of the service The Ying Tong Song by The Goons was played, resulting in laughter among the tears.

A collection was made for the British Tinnitus Association at Woodseats Close, Sheffield, in Mr Kearley’s memory.

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