Former Herts Advertiser photographer dies

Greg in his early days as a photographer

Greg in his early days as a photographer - Credit: Archant

FORMER Herts Advertiser chief photographer Tony ‘Greg’ Gregory died last Friday after suffering a heart attack.

Greg, who lived with his wife of 28 years, Hazel, in Pemberton Close, St Albans, was 91 and had recently recovered from breaking his leg.

He suffered the heart attack while having lunch in his favourite pub, The Two Brewers in Chipperfield, and died later in Watford Hospital having never regained consciousness.

Said the Herts Advertiser’s former industrial correspondent Derek Dewey-Leader who, with his wife Pat, was with Greg and Hazel: “Heroic efforts were made by the paramedics who used a heart defibrillator to try to revive him but on arrival at Watford Hospital, the consultant told us there was no hope as he had extensive brain damage. It was a very shocking moment for us all.”

Greg worked as a photographer all his life including 20 years as chief photographer of the Herts Advertiser. He was a colourful character for whom getting the picture was always his most important concern.

He was the first photographer on the scene at the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone train crash which left 85 people dead when three trains collided. Many of his photos appeared in the national newspapers of the day but he also assisted in rescuing the victims.

He photographed royalty and many leading personalities over the years including the Queen, the Queen Mother, Sir Winston Churchill and King Faisal of Iraq, film stars including Sophia Loren and Roger Moore, stage stars Alfie Bass and David Kossoff and comedian Eric Morecambe who lived in Harpenden.

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He once brought a smile to the poker-faced Russian president Alexei Kosygin by calling on him to ‘give us a smile sir’ during a visit to Borehamwood.

In more recent years, he was the first photographer on the scene when the IRA attempted to blow up the Alban Arena in 1991 and the only one to capture the scene of devastation outside the theatre.

Even after reaching retirement age, he never failed an assignment and one of his editors was once rebuked for keeping a pensioner working until 3am.

During the war Greg served in the RAF in Spitfire squadrons based at Duxford, Fowlmere and Hornchurch and later in India from where he flew home in the bomb bay of a Wellington bomber. He had a lucky escape when it was destroyed on the ground by terrorists when it landed in the Middle East.

He never flew a Spitfire but his job, when the aircraft were scrambled, was to sit on the tailplane as they taxied across rough grass airfields to stop their Merlin engines tipping them into the ground – and then jump off at the right moment.

Derek added: “Everyone will have their favourite story of Greg but for me he was the best of companions and remained a steadfast friend over more than 50 years.

“He suffered falls and diabetic illness in his last years but I never heard him complain once. He just got on with life and lived it to the full.”

The funeral will be held at 2pm on Tuesday, May 7, at West Herts Crematorium, Garston.