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'Wonderful' KM Group photographer Dave Downey captured some of Kent's biggest moments

By Steve Salter

Tributes have been pouring in to former KM Media Group photographer Dave Downey, who has died after a short illness.

Family, friends and former colleagues have been sharing memories of the “kind and supportive” 78-year-old, who originally worked for the Kentish Express aged just 15.

Dave Downey worked for the KM Group for 36 years
Dave Downey worked for the KM Group for 36 years

Ashford historian Steve Salter says Mr Downey – who died on Thursday, May 18 – was a “wonderful man”.

“He was a consummate professional in his field with more than 50 years’ service - 36 years for the company - and he earned the hugest respect from all who had the pleasure of meeting him,” he said.

“Extremely kind and supportive, he mentored many young reporters and those interested in photography (including myself), and always found time to help, even if he was on a tight schedule.

“His genuine disposition was always evident, and he always greeted you with a smile.

“To anyone who became his subject in his work as a photographer, he would always make one feel at ease.”

Dave Downey was respected far and wide for his work
Dave Downey was respected far and wide for his work

Following his original stint at the Kentish Express at a young age, and under the direction of former photographer Dennis Shadwell, Mr Downey left to study at Dover Art College. He then worked with commercial photographers Douglas and George Weaver, when in those days he went by his middle name ‘John’.

Though he enjoyed working for the Weavers, he realised that press photography was his preferred choice of work.

Mr Downey who was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in October 1944 and ended up in Kent through his father’s Army postings, then took up a role as senior photographer at a Luton newspaper.

He came back to Kent much to the delight of his siblings Annie and Richard and secured a position working on the former Whitstable, Canterbury and Faversham Times.

Their offices in Canterbury were based in the same building as bookbinders Elvy and Gibbs Partnership, where he met his future wife, Sue.

“He always greeted you with a smile...”

It was in the 1970s that he became well known for his work in the locality and in particular for the Kentish Express and its other titles.

His impressive portfolio included regularly photographing members of the Royal Family such as the Queen and Prince Philip, Princess Anne and also the Queen Mother who was always a favourite of his to photograph.

His easy style and happy disposition earned him many an accolade over the years and he was respected far and wide for his work.

He covered some of the biggest stories that the paper has ever covered and was there at the crucial time to get the best shots that make the stories.

Mr Downey lived for his family, and was loved by them and his huge circle of friends.

His funeral will be held at 2.30pm on Wednesday, June 21 at Charing Crematorium. The wake will follow at Sandyacres Sports Club in Sandyhurst Lane.

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