AS one of the best, and certainly most popular, press photographers in this newspaper’s long history, Jonathan Barry was used to going to funerals.

But few who knew him could ever have imagined going to his. Yet there they were, as many as social distancing restrictions would allow, gathered inside and outside Wyre Forest Crematorium at Stourport on Severn on a winter’s day to say goodbye to a husband, father, relative, friend, work colleague and all round good bloke.

The torrent of tributes following his recent death from cancer at only 54– including one from the Mayor of Worcester Jo Hodges, something which has never happened to the Press before in living memory – proved that. To his family Jonathan was a “Fab Dad”, while to everyone else he was a friend within minutes of meeting him.

The service, on Thursday, November 26, was conducted by celebrant Tracy Fellows who read out some memories of former colleagues on the Accrington Observer, where “Jonny”, as he was then known, began his newspaper career. One described him as “a shaft of light in a tired old newspaper office, who was able to make the most ordinary local sporting event look like an epic occasion”. Another said: “Jonny was an absolute legend of a man who always made me smile. He had a grin from ear to ear. It’s so sad I will no longer be able to laugh with him again.”

Jonathan was born to be a press photographer. His father Jack was chief photographer of the Clitheroe Advertiser and one of the area’s leading freelances, while his mother Ann was for a while the official photographer of Blackburn Rovers. Covering Rovers games for the Lancashire Evening Telegraph he travelled across Europe and even to Russia. After a spell in New Zealand, Jonathan and Anita returned to the UK in 2003, settled down on Martley Hillside with their two young daughters Charlotte and Jennifer, and Jonathan joined the Worcester News, soon becoming picture editor.

As well as a photographer he was also a closet rock drummer and managed to keep a set of drums in the loft at Martley, until they came to his wife’s notice one day and the secret was out. Inevitably then, his funeral service included a bit of Led Zeppelin. There was the track Kashmir as mourners entered the chapel and, of course, Stairway to Heaven, which left few dry eyes. The exit music was George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. And so JB did move on. But not before one final smile. A glitch in many of the mourners’ sat navs sent them heading down the road to the local sewerage works instead of to the crematorium, which meant effecting a rapid U-turn. That would have tickled Jonathan Barry’s sense of humour no end.