The Bolton Evening News scaled new heights to cover the funeral of steeplejack Fred Dibnah, when staff photographer Karen Hope followed the path he had trodden for so much of his life… and climbed a church tower!
The hometown newspaper of the late TV personality decided to pull out all the stops to cover the event which attracted the attention of much of the national media.
And Karen’s vantage point gave her the opportunity to get several exclusive photographs.
While others detailed to cover the funeral of Fred got most of their shots from the windows of the Bolton Evening News offices, overlooking the town’s parish church, Karen spent three hours on top of the tower in the pouring rain.
Editor Steve Hughes said: “We knew that the procession would give us the opportunity for some memorable and historic photos but we also knew that several thousand people would turn up and that it would be difficult to take photos at street level.
“We wanted to make sure that we had the best possible view so our photographers spent several days finding the right locations. We got some great photos that no one else did.”
On the day of the funeral the paper devoted pages one and two to the story and carried an eight-page pictorial tribute from Fred’s early days as a traditional steeplejack to his trip to Buckingham Palace earlier this year to collect his MBE.
Because the funeral was in the afternoon most of the coverage had to be carried the next day. As it wasn’t a breaking story Steve decided to go for a features treatment on page one, with a big atmospheric photograph and the start of a 1,200 word colour piece by chief features writer Angela Kelly.
Steve said: “There didn’t seem a lot of point doing a traditional news story when everyone in the town knew that he had been buried the day before.
“Instead we chose to concentrate on the quality of the writing and the photographs and I was very pleased with the result. It was a fantastic team effort.”
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