Former Central Independent Newspapers group chief photographer Allan Williamson, who was 60, died on Saturday of a brain tumour.
Originally from Blackburn, Allan studied on the NCTJ press photography course, in Wednesfield, from 1972 to 1973 and completed his NCTJ proficiency certificate at the Lichfield Mercury, where he worked for more than three decades – as well as sister titles sister titles the Tamworth Herald, Sutton Coldfield Observer, Walsall Advertiser and Journal magazine.
He was later given the group-wide role at publisher CIN, where he oversaw the transition of photography from film camera to digital.
Allan, pictured above left, won nearly 40 national and regional awards over the course of his career – including Newspaper Society Free Weekly Gold Award for Best Photographer in all of the UK four times.
In 2008 he received a double Gold Award, winning the News and Sport categories, which is believed to be the first time any photographer has won both in the same year.
Allan also published a book of Press Photographs in 2003 entitled Moments in Time celebrating 30 years at the Mercury, with the introduction written by the late Lord Lichfield.
After being made redundant in March 2009, he carved out a freelance career.
Tim Hewitt, a colleague for more than 21 years and editor of the Mercury between 2000 and 2009, was made redundant at the same time as Allan.
Paying tribute, he said: “I have never forgotten an impeccably professional colleague who embodied the true spirit of local journalism in every single frame and who had more understanding of what made local newspapers tick than scores of modern media management types combined will ever have.
“Although I was at the Mercury a good few years myself, alongside many other reporters and photographers of long service, to a very great proportion of readers and advertisers Allan was the Mercury and represented the company in an outstanding manner throughout his career.
“As an individual he was warm, kind and generous and my deepest sympathies go to his wife, son and daughter in their sad loss.”
Keith Boughey, another Lichfield Mercury editor who gave Allan his first job, added: “He was an absolutely outstanding photographer, I would have said one of the best regional photographers of his generation and also the nicest man you could wish to meet.”
Allan is survived by wife Pauline, son Jon and daughter Jemma.