Farewell to a friend and colleague

Peter Rippon
Peter Rippon

News of the death of former Larne Times photographer Peter Rippon last Friday (December 16) has brought sadness to all who knew him.

Peter recorded events in the Larne area for more than 20 years, snapping thousands of people at memorable moments in their lives.

He was a familiar face at all kind of gatherings - school prize days, drama festivals, sports events and family celebrations.

At this time of year he would have been much in demand, covering the many Christmas parties, nativity plays and festive dinners that bring the community and generations together.

His arrival was greeted on many occasions, with the announcement: “The Larne Times is here!”

Indeed, Peter was very much the public face of the paper and it was a role he was perfectly suited to. He didn’t have to be taught how to cope with different situations and admirably tackled everything the job threw at him, no matter how difficult.

He was a key member of our team when we covered the tragedies as well as the good news stories. Regardless of the subject, Peter could be relied upon to be sensitive at all times.

Every one of us who ever accompanied Peter on a marking will agree that he was as much at home covering a royal visit as he was at the unveiling of a plaque or the sponsorship of a new football strip.

He had patience where others would give up. He put people at their ease in all kinds of situations. At times he could be seen gently coaxing a reluctant subject into having his or her photo taken. Inevitably they would be delighted with the result.

And he had no difficulty working with potentially the two trickiest categories of subjects of all - children and animals.

However, it would be remiss to just remember Peter for the vital part he played in archiving the area’s rich community life for two decades.

He had an in-built talent that many other photographers can only dream of - that of seeing beyond the obvious.

He had a fabulous eye for detail, for the unusual and for the potential in a view that others would never notice.

One of the most iconic of Peter’s photos was one which ran on the Larne Times front page after some seabirds were rescued off the Larne coast. His image of a pair of caring hands gently washing a stricken bird, with steam from the water rising above its feathers, captured the moment perfectly.

His talent was balanced completely with his own modesty. He never sought fame or glory for even what would certainly have been award-winning photos.

Peter was born in England and moved to Larne when he was five years old, spending his early years at the family home in Wellington Green.

A former pupil of Moyle Primary School and Larne Grammar, he considered going to art college but instead chose to begin his career in photography in Connors’ Chemist.

After a spell with the Larne Guardian, he joined the Larne Times as a staff photographer in January 1994.

In those earlier years, Peter earned our respect for his skills in the darkroom, carefully transforming negatives into images that we all would be proud of.

He embraced the arrival of digital photography, and enjoyed perfecting his craft in a new era when everyone began to feel they could be a photographer because of advancing technology.

Most of all, over the years Peter became a friend to all of us in the Times, as well as a colleague.

He often went the extra mile to help, whether it was by digging out a negative from his carefully catalogued collection or dashing off to a last-minute job that one of us had forgotten to tell him about.

We remember him for his kindness, his loyalty, his genuineness and good humour,

Peter was laid to rest on Tuesday (December 20) in St John’s Parish churchyard, Glynn after a funeral service in Larne Methodist Church.

Our deepest sympathies are with Mandy, Daniel, Sophie and the family circle.