Tributes to long-serving Eastbourne Herald photographer

Former Eastbourne Herald and Gazette picture editor Terry Connolly passed away at the weekend.

Wednesday, 8th November 2017, 3:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:24 pm
Terry Connolly SUS-170811-154630001

Terry, a father of five, was 80 and had been suffering with Alzheimer’s.

He died on Saturday evening at the DGH surrounded by his family.

Warm tributes have been paid to Terry, who began his long illustrious career in photography after a five-year stint in the RAF and working at the former Birds Eye factory in Eastbourne.

Terry Connolly SUS-170711-103746001

Born in Kingston Road in Hampden Park, Terry moved away from the town for a short while before returning and attended Downsmede and St Joseph’s schools.

He did his National Service in the RAF and when he left the armed forces in 1960, started work at the Lottbridge Drove frozen food factory as a Unilever junior manager.

It was there that he met his wife Thelma and the couple married in 1969. They had five children, Andrea, Julie, Samantha, Tabitha and Gareth as well as 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

After a brief spell working with the late journalist Mike Storr as freelancers, Terry went to work on the Sussex Express as a staff photographer and then picture editor.

Terry Connolly SUS-170711-103746001

After 15 years he moved to the Eastbourne Herald and Gazette as picture editor and even when he retired at the age of 65, continued to work weekends for the newspaper.

In his spare time Terry was a keen sailor and his and Thelma’s boat was moored on the Thames at Windsor Racecourse.

Tributes have flooded in from former colleagues and friends.

The Herald’s former editor Peter Austin, who worked with Terry on the Herald and the Sussex Express, described him as a “great news man”.

“There was hardly a major story in East Sussex in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that Terry didn’t cover,” said Peter. “He wasn’t just a photographer, he was a 24/7 news man with a terrific imagination.”

Justin Lycett began his career as a darkroom assistant at the Herald and was trained by Terry.

Now the multi media editor at the Hastings Observer series, Justin said, “Back in 1989 I was a lost 17-year-old who had no interest in photography or newspapers but Terry saw something in me.

“He not only took me on as a darkroom printer, he turned me into a photographer and, more importantly, gave me so much good advice on life in general during the eight years I worked with him. He’s somebody I’ll never forget.”

Former Eastbourne Herald editor Hugh Rowlings, who led the paper from 1986-1996, said he had ‘loved’ working with Terry.

“He was one of the best news photographers I have ever met,” he added. “I’ve known him since 1969 when he was a freelance photographer in Eastbourne and I had just joined the local office of the Evening Argus as a reporter. He was always first to the story whether it was a fire, a road crash or a rescue drama at Beachy Head no matter if it was day or night.

“I remember him in the Great Storm of 1987 by which time I was Editor of the Eastbourne Gazette and Herald and he was our Picture Editor. I got in at 9am to find the phones off and everyone talking about trees down. “Terry arrived half an hour later with a batch of photos telling the whole story. He had been up all night driving round town dodging falling trees and roof tiles to get to the heart of the action while the rest of us were still in our beds. He knew how to capture a drama. We also used his pictures in a special magazine called Hurricane Eastbourne.

“On the personal front, he had a great sense of humour and was very good company whether at work or socially. And he seemed to know everyone who mattered newswise. Contacts were constantly tipping him off with stories because they knew he would act instantly.

“I learned so much from him, especially his work ethic. He believed a good picture told the story better than words. That was why he was so quick off the mark, not only to beat the opposition but to capture the news as it was breaking. He was a one-off.

“His other great passion was river cruising and he and his wife Thelma bought a motor cruiser to use on the river Thames. My wife Julia and I joined them occasionally and enjoyed it so much we bought a boat, too.

I remember him telling me that when he bought his boat, “It changed our lives.”

My life changed too, in 1969...when I met Terry Connolly.”

Terry’s funeral is on Monday November 20 at 3.15pm at Eastbourne Crematorium.

All friends are welcome at the funeral service and afterwards at the Fisherman’s Club.