Popular former Gazette and Herald photographer Colin Kearley has died 72 after a short illness.

Although Mr Kearley had been fighting cancer his death on Saturday evening came as a shock to his family.

Originally from Ealing in west London, Mr Kearley became hooked on photography when he got his photographer's badge at Scouts.

He came to Wiltshire in the late 1950s along with his family and got a job with Signcraft in Henry Street, Swindon.

He was offered a job in Devizes by the Gazette's then chief photographer Fred Hazell and he started work in the Market Place offices on November 5 1963.

He met his wife Marion while working at the Gazette and the couple were married at St James's Church, Southbroom, in 1967. The couple have two sons, Stephen and Garry, and five grandchildren.

Dave Bunton, the former chief photographer at the Wiltshire Times, alongside whom Mr Kearley worked for many years, said he was devastated by his friend's death.

He said: "I knew Colin Kearley for over 50 years. He was one of the hardest working, conscientious photographers I ever worked with.

"He worked  at the Wiltshire Gazette while I was at the Wiltshire Times, overlapping jobs mainly in the Chippenham and Devizes areas. He knew almost everyone and was always courteous and polite.

"He was Mr Gazette.

"In later years when  I freelanced I did regular shifts for the Gazette working for Colin. He knew how to work the photo diary backwards,  knowing what could or could not be done, always thinking ahead , often changing things from over zealous reporters. He had tremendous local knowledge and contacts.

"It is a sad day for the Wiltshire Gazette and Devizes. My wife, Pat, and I  socialised and kept in regular contact with Colin and his wife Marion after we both retired, we would reminisce about the “good old days”. When Pat was very ill, Colin and Marion were constant support to us."

Gazette editor Gary Lawrence said: "I look back at the time I spent working with Colin, more than ten years, and I consider it a privilege to have been in his company that long.

"Not only was he an excellent professional and a dedicated journalist, he was a lovely, kind and ever-cheerful family man who cherished his time at home.

"He was also very, very funny and had a lovely dry sense of humour.

"He loved the Gazette and the patch he worked in and that shone out through the pictures he produced. And he was incredibly popular in the towns where he worked, he knew everyone and he always had a smile and a joke for them.

"It is a sad day for the Gazette, and a sad day for Wiltshire."