Photographer Mike 'Charity of Cheltenham' has died aged 79

Mike Charity, one of the West Country’s best known freelance photo-journalists and TV news cameramen has died at the age of 79.

Mike had been fighting illness for a number of years but had remained chipper throughout and (having given up the TV work) was contributing features and photographs to county and lifestyle magazines while also publishing a third book, cataloguing his coverage of the Fred West murder case in Gloucester.

Although Cheltenham-based for most of his business life Mike hailed from Hereford where he started life as an apprentice electrician.  He changed career early on and learned his photography craft working with respected photographer Derek Evan before striking out on his own in Cheltenham during the mid 1960’s to establish a news picture agency.

He rapidly gained a reputation with Fleet Street – becoming ‘Charity of Cheltenham’ – but also embraced the opportunity to provide freelance news film services for HTV and Central TV. He worked on an almost daily basis for both and also employed his long standing cameraman Keith Beard who worked almost exclusively for HTV.

Throughout he was always news driven but also established a PR photography service which in those days involved producing large volumes of prints which Gilly, his highly competent dark room printer and wife, was able to fulfil.

Mike was one of the first to supply aerial footage of the Aberfan disaster and spent more hours than he can recall filming prototype Concorde take offs and landing’s from Fairford (at the behest of TV news channels) ‘just in case it crashed’.

He published three books in total featuring events on his patch; the Royals, characters from Cheltenham and Gloucestershire and the Fred West murder case where, like the Concorde filming at Fairford, he had become a fixture in Cromwell Street awaiting news and developments.

Mike sadly died on Friday November 13th after suffering from cancer.  He leaves his wife Gilly and son Dan who has followed his dad into photojournalism and is a regular Sun contributor. 

PIcture credit: Gloucestershire Echo

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