Posted: May 11th, 2011
Kevin ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick, ex Mirror Manchester and one of the North West’s most popular and talented newspaper photographers, has died at the age of 62.
He lost his brave battle against cancer in early June at St Anne’s Hospice in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire.
Kevin, known for his cigar smoking and ready, laconic wit had a distinguished career as a photo-journalist, working with the Mirror and other national newspapers for over three decades.
He began his career with the Altrincham Guardian. After two years in Altrincham he joined the Northern Press Photo Agency, and later the Yorkshire Evening Press in Scarborough before returning to Manchester and taking a staff job in the mid 60s with the Daily Mirror in Withy Grove.
When the Mirror opened new offices in Dublin, with a then revolutionary colour press, Kevin was selected to lead its photographic department.
Not long after his arrival in Dublin the Ulster Civil Rights movement began and Kevin covered the riots and “The Troubles” that followed.
Soon after returning to the Mirror Manchester in the early 1980s, he won the prodigious title Nikon Photographer of the Year. In 1984 he produced an award winning series, ‘Fun With Fitz’, a humorous set of page three picture stories looking at life in the North West.
During the Maxwell era Kevin left the Mirror and set up in business on his own as a freelance.
In this period he worked extensively for the Daily Telegraph, and produced his famous award-winning photograph of the Pope’s arrival at Manchester Airport when the Pontiff’s hat was blown off by a gust of wind as he walked down the steps of the plane.
Noted for his no nonsense, down-to-earth manner, Kevin perfected the knack of putting people at their ease in front of his lens.
Daily Mirror Picture Editor Ian Downs said: “Kevin was a truly great photographer of the old school.
“He was a very loyal, fun-loving colleague and formed a vital part of a great team of photographers in the north.
“His work for the Mirror involved him in covering some of the most difficult assignments, especially in Northern Ireland.
“But nothing daunted him and he was able to turn in great pictures in any situation.
“He treated all the subjects of his camera – from the important to the routine – with equal care and professionalism. He will be sadly missed.”
In the last two decades of his life Kevin became a leading member of the National Association of Press Agencies, representing freelance journalists and photographers.
President of NAPA, Denis Cassidy said: “Kevin was one of nature’s gentlemen and proved to be a loyal and important member of our professional association.
“As a photographer he distinguished himself with work of the very highest calibre and produced some tremendous and memorable images.
“It is a mark of the man that he was very popular not only with his colleagues, but also with his professional competitors.
“Even when he became ill Kevin did not lose his sense of humour and was still able to show concern for others while fighting his own illness.
“He never lost his optimism and was looking forward to getting back on the road even when he was receiving treatment at Christies’ Hospital.
“In Kevin we have lost a trusted friend and valued colleague. He will be long remembered.”
Kevin is survived by a brother and two sisters.
RAY WEAVER with thanks to CHRIS JOHNSON of Mercury Press
Report and picture from FRANK THORNE
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