ONE of the Midlands' most accomplished press photographers Jeremy Pardoe, who won major awards for both his news and sports pictures, has died at the age of 72. Although he would be the first to admit he was lucky to get that far.

Jeremy worked for this newspaper in the 1980s and 90s and on December 9 1997 was driving past a construction site in Oxford Street, Kidderminster, on his way to a job when a huge three-ton, 40ft long steel girder, which was being moved by crane, slipped out of its lifting chain, fell over the site boundary and crashed straight on to his car.

He said later: “I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t believe what had happened, especially when I saw a picture of the car. I was sorry I didn’t get the photograph, but I was rather pre-occupied at the time.”

Jeremy was rescued from the wreck by an off-duty firefighter, who pulled him out of a back door of the vehicle, but suffered serious facial and back injuries.

Former colleagues have been swift to pay tribute to someone who was considered a “gentleman” in the trade. John Phillpott, former WN chef sub editor and columnist, said: “Very sad to hear the news.

“Jeremy was the star turn when the Worcester Evening News had a photographic department, a true professional and also a man with a keen artistic, creative eye for what made a great photograph.

“I was the chief sub of the multi-edition paper for nearly nine years and always took great delight when Jeremy’s pictures ended up on my desk. He could make the most of any subject, no matter how mundane.”

Former WN editor Mark Higgitt added: “Jeremy was a true gent and great photographer” while former WN features editor and Berrow’s Journal editor David Chapman said: “Jeremy Pardoe was a genuinely nice guy in a profession that is not necessarily known for it.

“He was also a brilliant photographer, who could always get the off-beat shot.”

Jeremy Pardoe was born in East Grinstead and initially thought of joining the police. However a few weeks at police training college soon changed his mind and he found a job on the East Grinstead Courier as a trainee photographer. In 1969 he got his first “scoop” when a lorry crashed spectacularly near his home and set a petrol station on fire.

Jeremy dashed outside to take the photo and as the newspaper boasted: “Within 45 seconds the Courier was there!”

He joined the staff of the Redditch Indicator in 1978 and then came to the Worcester Evening News.

In 1985 Jeremy won the award for Best Midlands News Picture of the Year with a photograph of a family at the funeral of two children who died in a house fire, while in 1990 he picked up the prize of Midlands Sports Picture of the Year with a shot of cricketer Ian Botham diving to take a catch for Worcestershire.

Following his accident, he became a freelance photographer and then worked for the Birmingham Post from 2000 until retiring in 2010. In his later years he became an avid croquet player and was a familiar figure at Broadwas Croquet Club, near Worcester.

Jeremy Pardoe died in Worcestershire Royal Hospital following a short illness. He lived in Tenbury Wells and leaves a wife Maureen and son James.

His funeral will be at Stourport Crematorium on Thursday, March 19 at 1.30pm.