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Photographer who served newspapers for 45 years dies aged 84

Tom BuistA photographer whose picture of a fatal tram crash launched his career when he was just 14 has died aged 84.

Tributes have been paid to Tom Buist, whose photo of the crash in his native Edinburgh earned¬† him a picture by-line in the city’s Evening News while still a child.

Tom, pictured, went on to work in newspapers for 45 years and continued working well into his 70s, including assignments for the Newcastle dailies The Chronicle and The Journal.

During his career, he also covered the Lockerbie disaster with his son Iain, himself a photographer with the two Newcastle dailies.

Iain, 51, told the Chronicle: “It was my first ever job with him when I was just 17.

“My dad worked from the age of 15 with the Daily Express after he answered an advert for a ‘dark room boy with a national newspaper’. He was still at school when he had his first news picture published in the Evening News in Edinburgh.

“He was only 14 but he took pictures of a tram accident because there were fatalities.

“Then he left school, landed his first job and worked for more than 50 years. He was still doing photos for the Chronicle when he was in his 70s.

“He was my hero, he did a book of photos for his children and he wrote a beautiful letter in mine and said how much he loved my work.

“He was so modest, I thought ‘I wish that I could be half the photographer you were dad’.”

Tom joined the Scottish Daily Express as a dark room boy at 15, later moving on to the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Sketch and then Daily Mirror in August 1965.

He captured George Best in his heyday and covered The Troubles in Northern Ireland – where he was nominated for the World Press Awards.

He also photographed Prime Minister Harold Wilson and boxer Muhammad Ali on a visit to the North-East of England.

The Mirror’s regional editor Stephen White, who worked with Tom for many years, said: “He was one of those photographers who when you were struggling with a story would show you his picture and it all came together.”

Tom moved to the North-East in 1970 where he worked for The Chronicle and The Journal until 1988 on staff. He continued as a freelance for another 22 years before retiring in 2010.

Tom, described by Iain as a “Labour man through and through”, was married to Sheila for 42 years until her death in 2005 at the age of 62.

As well as Iain, he is survived by daughters Marcelle, 62, Lysette, 59, three grandchildren and two step grandchildren.

Tom’s funeral takes place at 1.15 pm on Friday 27 January at West Road Crematorium, in Newcastle, with refreshments afterwards at General Havelock pub in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland.