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Former KM Group photographer Barry Crayford, of Fallowfield, Sittingbourne, has passed away

12 March 2014

Tributes have been paid to well-known photographer Barry Crayford, who has died at his home in Sittingbourne.

In a newspaper career spanning almost three decades, the 63-year-old was a familiar face throughout the area, working for the East Kent Gazette (EKG), Sheppey Gazette, Medway Messenger and Sheerness Times Guardian.

Barry Crayford worked for the RNLI after leaving the KM Group

Barry Crayford worked for the RNLI after leaving the KM Group

He passed away just before 6am today of a suspected heart attack.

Ginny, his wife of 39 years, tried to save him using CPR but tragically her efforts were in vain. They were due to mark their ruby wedding anniversary in July.

The grandfather-of-four joined the EKG in Sittingbourne in 1972 where Ginny was a receptionist. They went on to have daughter, Melanie, and son Gavin.

During the course of his career, Barry covered thousands of events and was well known for his dedication, kind nature and great sense of humour.

Notable jobs included the opening of the new Sheppey Crossing, the laying of the first brick at Demelza House Children’s Hospice, Bobbing, and the 1971 Sheppey train crash.

Gavin, 35, said: “He was a real family man, he just loved being around us all, especially since the grandchildren came along. He was full of fun and more like my best mate than my dad.

The late Barry Crayford

The late Barry Crayford

“He was always joking, he once told me that when I was born, the midwife slapped my mum [because I was so ugly]. That’s the kind of guy he was, always laughing.”

After leaving the KM Group in 2008, the keen sailor became the volunteer press officer for Sheerness RNLI – a job he thrived on.

Gavin added: “He couldn’t wait for Sundays to see all the guys and have banter with them all. He just loved being down there.

“People have been really good in sending messages about him and how he’ll be missed; he was a genuinely well-liked person.”

RNLI operations manager, Colin Washford, says it was a terrible shock to hear.

He said: “We are going to miss him. It’s a horrendous loss to us in both the work he did for us, which was never ending, and in his banter, wit and laugh, and the wild aspirations of things he did and dreamed of doing.

“He was a character and will be greatly missed by the RNLI as he will be by all his family and friends - our thoughts go out to them first.”

Barry and Ginny Crayford on their wedding day

Barry and Ginny Crayford on their wedding day

Mr Washford fondly remembered a time when Barry was asked to photograph The Queen when she opened Margate lifeboat station. He took a picture of his wife with her.

“I don’t know if he was supposed to do that - but that was just Barry,” he said.

KM Group picture services editor, Barry Hollis, said: “It has come as a shock to hear the news.

“I knew Barry for a number of years, in fact, since 1975, when I worked for the Sheerness Times Guardian and Barry was working for the opposition Sheppey Gazette.

“Barry has always put a brave face on things, the jolly happy-go-lucky guy, he was well liked by the people he worked with and the general public.

“Barry had worked for a number of years as a freelance and as a member of staff for the KM Group for me, during that time he worked hard to promote and show loyalty to the Kent Messenger Group.

“He will be sadly missed, my best wishes to his wife Ginny and family.”

Barry Crayford sent in this photo of the SS Richard Montgomery off the coast of Sheerness

Barry Crayford sent in this photo of the SS Richard Montgomery off the coast of Sheerness

David Jones was a friend for more than 40 years. He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear the news. I was shocked.

“As well as being a personal friend of Barry and his wife, Ginny, I worked with him for many years in the Swale and Medway areas, most recently on the Medway Messenger.

“Professionally, nothing was too much trouble for Barry and he would always go the extra mile to get the best out of even the most routine of assignments.

“He was always cheerful, a nice guy and a true gentleman. He also had a great sense of humour and always saw the positive side of everything.

“He took the photographs when my wife, Lynda, and I got married at Minster Abbey in 1972.

Picture Barry Crayford took at the old paper mill site in Sittingbourne

Picture Barry Crayford took at the old paper mill site in Sittingbourne

“Barry and I had a long-standing joke which lasted more than four decades - he would always say ‘Your wedding prints will be ready soon’!”

“He was a great character and he will be mourned by many friends and past and present journalists in the Medway and Swale areas.”

As well as Ginny, Melanie and husband Andy, Gavin and partner Ellen, Barry leaves grandchildren Thomas, James, Callum and Millie. Details of his funeral are yet to be arranged.

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