Remembering Bob, a colourful local character

Bob Huggins
Bob Huggins

A well-known and colourful character – former Northumberland Gazette chief photographer Bob Huggins has died, aged 75.

Described as a loyal friend and member of the community, he passed away on Saturday, following a short illness.

A man of many passions and talents, Bob, who lived at Embleton, was an enthusiastic and competent photographer.

He started working for the Gazette as a freelance photographer in 1986, but it wasn’t until 1989 that he ‘came indoors’ and was taken on full-time.

He held the role of chief photographer and retired from the Gazette in 2002.

He was the first photographer at the paper to use colour photography and also the first to use a digital camera.

His most treasured Gazette memory was when he met and chatted with Cardinal Basil Hume before a book launch on Holy Island. The cardinal asked Bob to send him his photos after the event and he received a thank you letter in return.

After his retirement, Bob continued to take photographs wherever possible and continued on a freelance basis.

Current Gazette chief photographer, Jane Coltman, said she had very fond memories of working with Bob.

She added: “He gained great pleasure from meeting members of the community through his photography and they in turn held him in high regard.

“There must be a large number of people from the district who were snapped by Bob at some point during his career.”

Bob’s time at the Gazette came at the end of a long and varied career.

Originally from Middlesbrough, he worked for Dorman Long Engineering before coming to RAF Boulmer for his military service, where he served as families’ welfare officer, among other care and service duties.

Following demobilisation, he worked as a project management officer in the Prison Service at Acklington, where he was also responsible as a welfare officer and paymaster for the inmates for a number of years.

Bob was also interested in local government politics and served on the old Alnwick Rural District Council.

He was later elected as member for Longhoughton Ward of Alnwick District Council following reorganisation of local Government in 1973.

He served until 1995, when he retired.

From 1983 to 1988, he acted as chairman of the council’s environmental health committee and the council’s highways consultant.

He was also chairman of the finance committee from 1992 to 1994.

In addition to these responsibilities, he served as the council’s representative on many government and public bodies.

To recognise his long service and responsibilities on behalf of the council and his Longhoughton ward, Alnwick District Council conferred upon him the honour of Honorary Alderman on December 5, 1995.

He enjoyed his local government responsibilities and other work where he was loyally supported and helped by his wife Elsie and their extended families.

Honorary Alderman Hugh Philipson and Northumberland County Council vice-chairman John Taylor paid tribute to Bob, saying he was always willing to offer support and advice to anyone who needed it. They said he will be sadly missed as a loyal friend and member of the community.

Bob’s funeral is on Monday, at 11am, at St Paul’s URC, in North Sunderland, Seahouses.