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Photographer who spent four decades with daily dies aged 84

Barrie DowellA regional daily photographer who covered the Ethiopian famine and was once covered in manure by a cult member has died aged 84.

Tributes have been paid to Barrie Howell, left, who worked for the Swindon Advertiser for four decades.

While at the Advertiser, he covered events including the famine – which led to him becoming a lifelong donor to the charity Ethiopiaid.

On 30 December 1977, he was also involved in an incident while covering the eviction of a farmer by the Moonies cult with a reporter, which led to buckets of manure being hurled at him by one of its members.

Advertiser deputy editor Michelle Tompkins, who worked with Barrie in the 1990s, said: “You wouldn’t say he was the most cheerful character in the newsroom but he was a character we all loved.

“He could be gruff on occasions but if he snapped at you he’d always then look at you with a glint in his eye which told you he wasn’t being entirely serious. And you always knew you’d get great pictures if Barrie was out on a job with you.”

Barrie joined the Advertiser in the late 1950s after working in a photo studio and completing his national service in the RAF as an aircraft mechanic.

A lifelong member of the National Union of Journalists, he was the Swindon chapel’s welfare officer, and worked for the newspaper until he was made redundant.

Barrie’s son John said: “His whole life was photography. He was always taking pictures.”

His daughter Christine added: “He was a real character. He was very grumpy but everybody loved him.”

A grandfather and great grandfather, Barrie lost his second wife Christine in 2012.

He died at Moormead Nursing Home on Christmas Eve, surrounded by his family.