Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tragic death of Andy Dennis, popular Mercury snapper ...

Just arrived home after a long weekend visiting friends in Norwich and West Wales to the terrible news that Stamford Mercury photographer Andy Dennis died suddenly on Thursday night.

Andy was a popular and active member of the Deepings community as a volunteer in local scouting and with the life-saving First Responders organisation. I’ve known Andy for years: it was always a joy when he turned up to record local events and campaigns on his camera for the Mercury.

A couple of years ago he contacted me to ask if he could take a photo for a story the Mercury were preparing about Lincolnshire County Council spending £2 million a year to send a few Stamford children to public school.

I was trying to highlight the unfairness of the scheme which reduces the budget of every other school in Lincolnshire. I was campaigning to scrap the scheme and put the money saved towards a brand new comprehensive school for Stamford.

I agreed to meet Andy at a local school: He had a classroom ready as a background to his photo and had chalked up in large figures on the blackboard the costs of the scheme against the price of a new school.

Andy lined me up in front of the blackboard. Then, with a cheeky twinkle in his eye, he suddenly produces a teacher’s mortar board, suggesting it would be a perfect fit for me and would make a great picture for the front page.

After a few seconds thought, I asked him to imagine the ribbing I'd get if he snapped me wearing the mortar-board.

I politely but firmly declined, insisting the mortar-board would devalue, rather than enhance the serious point I was trying to make about the scholarship scheme.

Despite me steadfastly refusing to wear the novel headgear, and his tongue-in-cheek grumblings of me being a spoil-sport, Andy still managed to produce an excellent picture that both maintained what was left of my dignity but was still good enough to be splashed across the front page of that week's Mercury.

I later asked Andy if he really thought I might have been daft enough to pose wearing the mortar-board. He said not really, but thought it was always worth a try to get a better picture. A true professional!

We both shared a real belly laugh at his idea which I agreed would have given him a great photo, but not one I wanted to see on the front of the Mercury, thanks!

The news of Andy's sudden death was posted by Vicar of Deeping St James, the Rev Mark Warrick who says at The Deepings Exchange:
...Andy has been a great friend to me since I first met him when he brought his step-daughter-to-be to Sunday School at the Priory Church some years ago.

He has made huge contributions to the life of this community, notably as a LIVES First Responder, and will be greatly missed by many. No matter how joyful a community event might be, there was always scope for the heart to be lifted by the arrival of Andy to photograph it for the press. He was wonderful with children and young people and helped me with our Pathfinders group for a while.

Please pray for Lindy, his wife, and all the household at this time of devastating loss and sudden change in their complex lives, and for the Responders who have lost a dedicated colleague in circumstances which must be tragic even by their standards.
The photo here of Andy is from the Stamford Mercury website where editor Eileen Green also pays warm tribute to him.

Andy was one of life's genuine good guys. It’s a huge shock to learn that he’s no longer with us. He will be sadly missed by many people here in the Deepings and right across “Mercury” country.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Andy's funeral if next Friday, 19th January, at St James, Deeping at 1pm, with a wake at The Rose after burial in DSJ cemetery. We have some stirring things lined up to celebrate his life and faith.