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IT IS with great regret that we report the death of the Buchanie’s own photographer, Ron Broughall, who has been with the paper for the past 13 years. Ron (74), died early on Friday morning after a long illness, which was bravely borne. Ron was known with great affection by all the local schoolchildren as ‘Mr Smelly Socks’ as he called himself when photographing the nursery and primary one children in order to get a smile or two, and the name has stuck throughout the youngster’s school days. Ron started training as a photographer with the Mond Nickel Company in London’s Park Lane at the Grosvenor House in 1945, being sent on various courses with Kodak, Illford, Statfile and many companies which existed at that time. In 1949 he joined the photographic department of the Royal Air Force where he trained as an air photographer, flying in various aircraft including Lincolns, Hastings, Vikings, Harvard and helicopters at an experimental unit before sailing out to the Middle East on the Empress of Britain, ending up in Malta where he served as press photographer covering the Royal Family, while the Duke of Edinburgh was skipper of a frigate under Lord Mountbatten. He returned to Britain in time for the east coast floods in 1953 which were photographed from the air daily. A return to civilian life in 1954 saw Ron established as a wedding photographer, getting married himself in 1955 and having his son in 1957. A change of track came along in 1969 when he took a pub in Cambridge and expanded this over the next few years with a night club (the first in the city), several pubs, and a small hotel. He was divorced in 1972 and was remarried one year later to Eleanor who has become well known in Buchan, where the couple have resided since 1986. Ron and Eleanor had originally planned to move to the area to retire, but instead Ron took up the post of photographer for the Buchanie, having been persuaded by the paper’s previous editor, George Hutchinson to ‘take a few photos’. Those ‘few photos’ expanded to hundreds every week and at that time the Buchan Observer became a picture paper with a record set during on Scottish Week of publishing 117 photographs in one issue, although Ron often had 100-plus published on a regular basis. Ron and Eleanor had been busy in the work on their cottage ‘The Quithel’ at Pitfour, which they completed in 1989, doing all the work themselves, including installing a generator to supply power. This proved to be inadequate for Ron’s darkroom as he processed all the pictures himself, so a small unit at Maud Station was taken for use as photographic workrooms. Ron’s other interests at this time included politics and he joined the Scottish National Party, standing for council at Boddam and later Turriff. Although he didn’t take either of these seats he enjoyed the experience and became convener of the Peterhead branch of the SNP, a post he held until quite recently. Other interests included being proposed for the Rotary Club, becoming chairman of the Over 50 forum, vice-chairman of the Craigewan Trust, and president of the Probus Club, which together with his photographic work filled all of his time. Driving to and from Maud proved to be taking far too much of his time, so the couple decided to move into Peterhead and Ron decided to have all his photo processing carried out at Studio Nova. Due to ill health Ron resigned from various organisations, but was presented with honorary membership of the SNP by Alex Salmond, and received similar membership of the Probus Club. Despite his illness, Ron carried on working for the Buchan Observer, enjoying every moment with the youngsters in the Buchan schools and an exhibition of his photographic work with the paper throughout his many years as photographer was put on display at last year’s Scottish Week. This proved to be extremely popular with locals and visitors alike, and will provide Buchan with the perfect tribute to one of the Buchanie’s best-known faces. Editor Ken Duncan said Ron’s passing had not only left a huge void in the lives of Buchan Observer staff but that of the community which he served for so many years. He said: “A consummate professional, Ron dedicated his later life to the coverage of local news and sport through the lens. “Attending a governmental occasion, a school activity or one of the countless galas and events across our catchment, Ron WAS the Buchan Observer – always acting in a professional manner and instilling the occasion with his own humour and wit. “Ron’s ability to capture the perfect moment on film regardless of pressure and constraints was matched only by his sensitivity and compassion when the need arose.” Archant regional director Michael Robertson said: “Ron has been the face of the Buchan Observer for the last 13 years and was immensely popular with all age groups and society in general. “He had a particular appeal with young people and an ability to put them at ease which lent to his achieving often exceptional results through the lens. “Although he was known for his professionalism behind the lens it is as ‘one of life’s gentlemen’ that he will be remembered. “His kindness touched the lives of many.”