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Regional daily photographer and friend to showbiz stars dies aged 68

Mike FosterA regional daily photographer and friend to show business stars has died aged 68 following a cancer battle.

Tributes have been paid to Mike Foster, left, who spent more than three decades with Blackpool daily The Gazette and rose to become its deputy chief photographer.

Mike began working at The Gazette in 1980 and upon his retirement in 2012 was North West deputy picture editor for the newspaper’s owner Johnston Press.

During his time in Blackpool, he befriended entertainers including late comedian Les Dawson and singer Linda Nolan.

Former Gazette women’s editor Libby Gomm, who was Mike’s partner for 25 years, told the newspaper: “He absolutely lived and breathed newspapers. He was well-known on the Blackpool show business circuit and became great friends with Les Dawson.

“Mike took one of the last photographs of Les with his daughter Charlotte before Les died. But he also covered a lot of big news events, such as the Pleasure Beach Fun House fire.

“He was so keen to get the best shot that the fire brigade had to tell him to come down from a ladder he’d climbed to get a better view. He also covered a lot of the political conferences in Blackpool.

“After his retirement, his interest in photography continued, and he also encouraged me in my photography. He was also a great friend and step-dad to my children Jon and Rob, and one of the happiest days of his life was when he became grandpa Mike to Indi, who is now nine months old. He was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and he fought it very hard.”

Lincoln-born Mike began his career at the Newark Advertiser and later had a spell at the Nottingham Post.

He was also an active member of the National Union of Journalists and a member of the Labour Party.

Former colleague and friend Iain Lynn was mentored by Mike when he joined The Gazette as a junior photographer.

Iain, now North West social media editor for Johnston Press, said: “Mike was an imposing figure physically and as a photographer in the press pack, he could look after himself. But his character was pretty much the opposite of that.

“He was quiet, polite, considered and had a great sense of humour. If you looked to him for advice, it was always considered. You had to coax things out of him, but it was always wisdom which made the advice more valuable.

“As a photographer, he taught me to look at other people’s work in order to learn, and as a picture editor he had a great eye.”

Mike’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 30 May at 11.45am at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool.

Donations in his memory will be for the continuing education of his sponsor child, Teddy Kipoche, at the Happy House, Kenya.