Posted: April 18th, 2018
BILL KENNEDY – Cremation and wake. The funeral service and wake to celebrate the life of our friend and colleague Bill Kennedy will be held on Tuesday, June 5, at 10.15 a.m. at Islington Crematorium (278 High Road, East Finchley, N2 9AG.) Nearest tube is East Finchley.
The wake will be in the back room of The Punch Tavern, Fleet Street, from about 12.30pm. The organisers need to know how many people would attend, especially the pub for catering purposes. So please let me know that you can make it. Many thanks, Frank Thorne. (UK mobile: 07555 189551; email: email@example.com)
BILL KENNEDY, a formidable member of the award-winning team of Daily Mirror photographers, died suddenly on April 17 (2018). He was 71. Bill had driven to one of his favourite pubs, The Crown, near Sonning, for “a pot of my favourite ale” and a spot of lunch in the sunshine. He was found “unconscious and unresponsive” beside his car in the pub car park. It is believed he had a massive heart attack and died instantly.
He leaves his son, Gerard, who featured in a magnificent spread in the Mirror back in the days of the first Gulf War in which he served as a tank gunner, and his long-term partner Jane Poole, whom many of you will remember from her days as a secretary in the Mirror’s political office. Bill and Jane had booked their wedding for next month. Gerard and Jane ask that you spread this sad news to those you feel should know.
By Alastair McQueen – Before joining the Mirror, Bill had been a police cadet in Oldham, Lancs, and was decorated for bravery for tackling and arresting an on-the-run local tearaway. He took a police photographic course and decided life behind the lens was the one for him.
He landed a job on The Oldham Chronicle and quickly made his way to the Mirror in Manchester, where he was hired in the late 1960s to join the “new” colour operation in Ireland.
Based in Dublin he travelled all over Ireland until The Troubles erupted in Northern Ireland in 1969. Often he was pitched northwards to Belfast and Londonderry where he ran the gauntlet of police baton charges and furious locals determined not to have their pictures in the paper.
As The Troubles got worse and the Provisional IRA launched their murderous campaign, and the Army deployed on to the streets, Bill was among the legion of photographers risking life and limb to get their pictures.
On one occasion in Londonderry he took exception to a couple of Provos trying to make him part company with his precious cameras. They both finished up needing hospital treatment.
A few hours later a “delegation” of Provos arrived in The City Hotel, then the Press base, asking for Bill and wanting him to “attend a court martial” in the Bogside. Someone nipped off and warned Bill while others kept them talking. Bill was smuggled down the fire escape, into his car and made an extremely hasty strategic withdrawal across the border back to Dublin.
But soon he was back in Northern Ireland – giving Londonderry a wide berth – and back in the thick of the action photographing tragedy after murderous tragedy.
On another occasion while covering rioting and a gunfight involving The Parachute Regiment and Provos in the Lower Falls, a very aggressive Provo supporter again had the stupidity to try to throttle Bill with one of the camera straps round his neck. He warned the guy to desist, but not exactly in those words! What the aggressor did not see was the 600mm Novoflex telephoto lens hanging from Blll’s left shoulder… but he soon felt it! The guy collapsed like a sack of spuds, winning Bill many congratulations from the watching Paras.
“It’s all right for you bleedin’ lot standing there laughing,” he yelled at the soldiers. “I’ve got to explain this lot to my boss – breaking yet another lens. I’ll be in deep s—t with him over this.”
After a time in Ireland he was moved back to the Mirror operation in Manchester where he was able to spend many of his Saturdays watching his beloved Manchester City at their old Maine Road ground.
And in 1976 he transferred to the Mirror’s Holborn office to join the highly-talented team of London-based photographers.
He worked on assignments in many of the world’s trouble-spots, including Beirut and Zimbabwe, as well as being sent to some of the world’s more exotic countries on much less dangerous jobs.
Made “redundant” from the Mirror in 1993 as part of the post-Maxwell blood-letting, he was quickly snapped up as a freelance by the News of the World where he remained until retiring.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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