A MUCH-LOVED Gazette photographer who has died has been remembered.

Mike Cleary worked for the then Essex County Newspapers for 15 years covering high profile stories such as the Royal Wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, the hi-jacking of a plane at Stansted Airport and four tours of Northern Ireland with the Army. 

Mike was born, the eldest of four children, in Islington, London, in 1953 and attended St John’s Roman Catholic School in Upton Park, becoming head boy.

He was interested in photography from a young age, reading two volumes of The Focal Encyclopaedia of Photography whilst still at school, with photojournalism being the absolute focus of Mike’s working life.

He joined Essex County Newspapers at the age of 20 and successfully completed the National Council Training of Journalists Diploma in Photojournalism in 1976.

Gazette: Mike Cleary in 1975Mike Cleary in 1975 (Image: Family)
After working with ECN from 1973 to June 1987, Mike’s career included freelance work for national daily newspapers in Fleet Street, Downing Street and Heathrow Airport, and for the Sunday People deputising for the Picture Editor.

Mike moved to Swansea in 1988, joining the South Wales Evening Post as a Senior Press Photographer, covering many major news and sporting events in South Wales and in 1989 was awarded the Heineken Rugby Photographer of the Year Award. 

Gazette: Mike Cleary in more recent yearsMike Cleary in more recent years (Image: Family)

Mike was a keen campaigning RSPB member and even joined the local Swansea fishermen needing crew in the Friday night pub sing song while their wages were paid.

Mike appreciated the beauty of South Wales and loved it there, but returned more and more frequently to Colchester, joining the Essex Wildlife Trust in 2008 as a volunteer, working there for over 10 years while making new friends.

As the Wildlife Trust achieved their target of replacing the trees and habitat due to the expansion of Abberton Reservoir by Anglian Water, Mike joined Copford Pits Wood Trust as a volunteer.

Mike became chairman, organising volunteer days, tree surgeon site visits, pond maintenance, and the reporting of birds nesting in bird boxes again, which he later attended to when he became a volunteer for his love Pits Woods.

He also became a permanent Copford resident in 2015.

Gazette: Mike Cleary with partner Linda GossettMike Cleary with partner Linda Gossett (Image: Family)

Mike leaves behind his partner Linda Gossett and daughter Megan.

Mike’s funeral will be held at St Michael and All Angels Church, Copford on Friday February 23 at 11.45am.