Popular photographer was committed to the community

Popular Local photographer Andy Dennis has died suddenly at the age of 43.

Andy, of Outgang Road, Deeping St James was found dead by his wife Lindy early Friday morning (January 5).

Tests are being carried out to establish the exact cause of death.

Andy was part of the photographic team working for The Local and our sister papers the Stamford Mercury and the Rutland Times for the past year. He had spent almost five years with the Mercury.

The Local's editor Lisa Bruen said: "Andy was a hugely talented photographer and a welcome addition to the team, who will be greatly missed by us all.

"When he began working for The Local, he made a real effort to get to know everyone on the team. He soon became known for his lively personality, as well as his unwavering commitment to the community he served."

Mercury editor Eileen Green said everyone at the newspaper was shocked and deeply saddened by the news.

"Andy had been with the Mercury for five years and was a popular member of our editorial team, who always had a smile on his face.

"His duties took him all over the area on our behalf and he was a wonderful ambassador for us. He was a fine photographer, a true professional with a passionate love of local newspapers.

"The place will certainly not be the same without him. He will be sorely missed."

The night before his death, Andy had spent the evening talking over plans with Lindy to buy the couple's first house before falling asleep on the sofa never to wake up.

Lindy (51) said: "He had nodded off on the settee and so I left him asleep and went upstairs to bed. Four hours later at about 4am I noticed he had not joined me so I went downstairs where I discovered that he had passed away - it was the most appalling shock.

"Andy was a lovely, warm man who took on my four children and made us all a family. None of us can believe he has gone, it was so sudden and cruel.

"I found out on the day of his death that we had been accepted for the house we wanted to buy. Unfortunately he never got the good news."

Andy is also survived by his four step-children Chris (22), Nick (21), Will (18), Abigail (13) and his father John, who now lives in Spalding where Andy had a studio before joining the Stamford Mercury as a photographer in 2002.

He said: "I am devastated at the loss of my son but am trying to remember all the wonderful things about him that made him such a one-off.

"He was certainly accident prone - I remember when he was a little lad at school in Stamford and kept having accidents on his beloved pushbike. Me and his mum, Josephine, got quite used to our son being delivered to us in the back of an ambulance covered in cuts and bruises after taking another tumble.

"There was also the time when he was nearly arrested at RAF Luffenham for impersonating the commanding officer, Station Commander A Dennis. But he managed to explain himself to avoid a trip to the glass house and like everything he did, it was with a smile on his face and with his wonderful sense of humour. That is why he made friends so easily.

"He grew up into a kind and caring man who had the common touch and an ability to talk to anyone, which is why he will be so badly missed by so many people."

Born in Verberg RAF base in Germany on February 28 1963, Andy moved to Edith Weston when his father - a corporal in the RAF - was re-deployed nearby North Luffenham.

The family then moved to Oakham where Andy attended Southfields primary before a move to Stamford saw him join the ranks of the Bluecoats Primary School in 1971.

It was here that a growing determination to attend Stamford Boys School began to harden and after studying like a demon, Andy passed the 11+ exam to win the place he so prized three years later.

Here the youngster discovered a life-long love for photography through teacher John Slater which he later pursued at Harrogate Art and Design College before returning in 1984 to live with his parents at Rippingale and lecturing on photography at Peterborough Regional college.

Andy's mother died in 1993 and five years later he moved to a studio in Spalding 18 months after meeting the love of his life and future wife, Lindy, at camp.

She said: "Andy had always been involved in Scouting as a leader, as had I, and he proposed to me in a rain soaked tent at Walesby Scout camp. It was so romantic.

"We got married on July 14 2001 in Bourne registry office and I just remember how happy and in love we were and that is how we stayed. He was so loving. His death has left a hole that everyone who knew him will struggle to fill."

Andy joined the Mercury in 2002 at about the same time as he and Lindy signed up as unpaid paramedics through the Lives First Responder team.

Deepings Lives coordinator, Helen Bembridge said: "Just talking to Andy is was clear he had a huge desire to help other people and that is why he became such a huge part of the Lives service in this area.

"He worked and Lindy worked as a team and the pair of them would always cover for others and go the extra mile to help out. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful asset to Lives who will be hugely missed by us all."

A service at the Priory Church in Deeping St James will take place on Friday January 19 at 1pm followed by interment at the churchyard and a celebration of Andy's life at the Rose pub in Frognall, Deeping St James.

Everyone who knew Andy is invited to attend both the service and the celebration but Lindy has asked for donations to Deepings First Responders in lieu of flowers.

A book of condolences has been opened at the Stamford Mercury offices in Sheepmarket, Stamford, and everyone is welcome to contribute to it.