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Funeral date for ex-KM man John Mellor

JOHN MELLOR: described as a KM character whose occasional Yorkshire bluster failed to conceal a kind heart
JOHN MELLOR: described as a KM character whose occasional Yorkshire bluster failed to conceal a kind heart

THE funeral of John Mellor, a former photographic manager of the Kent Messenger Group who has died aged 69, will be held at Christchurch, Luton, Chatham, on Wednesday, October 15, at 11am.

The service will be followed by cremation at Medway Crematorium at noon.

Mr Mellor, who worked for the KM Group from 1960 until 1993, died of cancer at the Molly Wisdom Hospital at Rochester.

There will be family flowers only at the funeral. His widow, Brenda, has requested that any donations should be made to the hospice in St Williams Way, Rochester.

Mr Mellor, who lived in Walderslade, near Chatham, also leaves one son, also named John, and a daughter, Yvonne.

Many tributes have been paid to Mr Mellor who, despite spending more than four decades in Kent, was immensely proud of his Yorkshire roots. He was originally from Huddersfield and never lost his Yorkshire accent.

Mr Mellor did his National Service in the RAF. In his early years with the KM Group, he worked for the now defunct Chatham Observer, a weekly newspaper rivalling the then Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News.

Before being appointed photographic manager, he was the KM Group's chief photographer.

Norman Smith, a former managing editor of the KM Group, said: "I was extremely sorry to hear the news about John. I worked closely with him for many years and developed a great deal of liking and respect for him. He was a KM character whose occasional Yorkshire bluster failed to conceal a kind heart.

"John was a talented photographer, though too little was seen of that talent in later years as he became immersed in the administration and demands of running a busy department with county-wide coverage.

"He saw many changes in his career, but with sweeping technological developments and company re-organisation looming he felt it was probably time to take things a bit easier and decided to take early retirement in May 1993 - though he continued to do occasional relief work for the company.

"He was also a popular regular at the staff pensioners' party. He will be missed by a great many people."

Brian Lewis, editor of the Kentish Express and a former deputy editor of the Kent Messenger, said: "John was up there among the best of Kent press photographers. His cricket action pictures were the best.

"He was a gruff, no-nonsense Yorkshiremen with a heart of gold and when we laughed at his 'eh-oop' and other Yorkshire-isms, he laughed too."

David Jones, community editor of the Medway Messenger, said: "I have fond memories of John, especially his loud voice with his Yorkshire - at least I think it was Yorkshire - accent booming across half the building at Larkfield.

"John had one or two catchphrases which he always used at the start of a sentence and I can recall that one of the subs was able to mimic John's voice and his catchphrases to perfection. But it was all very good-natured.

"John was definitely one of the old school - a real character. But he was also an extremely good photographer and I recall that his forte was cricket pictures."

John White, assistant editor of the KM Group's New Media department and a former news editor of the Kent Messenger, said: "John displayed a rather gruff manner at times.

"When you asked him to do something he nearly always kept you waiting. "You want, you want," he used to say to me.

"But he always acceded to the request in the end - usually with a grin on his face. And he always took pride in doing a professional job.

"In his role as photographic manager, he was chiefly deskbound, but often turned out late at night in an emergency. On one occasion, we both attended a major road accident in the early hours of the morning on Detling Hill.

"When he had finished taking his pictures, he said to me 'it's all right for you - you can go back to bed now, but I've got to go all the way back to the office to process the film.'

"The next morning the photographs he made available of the crash scene were first class. John's pictures always were."

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