For­mer Ex­press ed­i­tor Dave Laf­ferty shares his mem­o­ries of Brian Ol­lier

Macclesfield Express - - BRIAN OLLIER: A TRIBUTE -

I FIRST met Brian Ol­lier when I was just 18 months old. Like thou­sands of other peo­ple across Mac­cles­field, my par­ents had com­mis­sioned Brian to take my portrait. Forty-two years later, Brian’s pic­ture is still on dis­play in my par­ents’ house in Lan­g­ley.

That’s how so many of us will have known Brian, as the man

who briefly en­tered our lives with a laugh and a smile and a high de­gree of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ex­per­tise.

I sus­pect Brian’s work sits proudly on the ma­jor­ity of shelves and man­tel­pieces in the town. Un­sur­pris­ingly I can’t re­mem­ber our first meet­ing but I was priv­i­leged to get to know Brian bet­ter than most dur­ing my time as ed­i­tor of the Mac­cles­field Ex­press. We had a lot in com­mon, we’d both learned our craft on the Ex­press and both shared a deep pas­sion for our home town and lo­cal jour­nal­ism. We agreed on a lot of things – dis­agreed on a few as well – but always en­joyed the cut and thrust of our many con­ver­sa­tions.

I was de­lighted when Brian agreed to start his weekly Look­ing Back col­umn in the Ex­press, his en­thu­si­asm, hard work and pas­sion shone through in his words and pic­tures and he brought plea­sure to thou­sands over the years. The ‘Brian Ol­lier Col­lec­tion’ of pho­to­graphs and mem­o­ra­bilia is his legacy to our town and its peo­ple.

Four weeks ago, Brian called to tell me he was ill. I vis­ited the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Af­ter he’d told me the bad news he smiled and said: “Let’s have a bot­tle of cham­pagne”.

It was only 10am but we pol­ished off the bot­tle and dis­cussed both the past and the future with a smile on our faces, and just a hint of sad­ness. I didn’t know it but that would be the last time I would see Brian. I’ll re­mem­ber him as a kind, in­tel­li­gent, con­vivial man right on top of his game pro­fes­sion­ally but most of all I’ll re­mem­ber him as a friend.

To­day, Mac­cles­field is a poorer town with­out Brian Ol­lier but un­de­ni­ably richer for having had him around.

Brian’s pho­tos chronicle the chang­ing face of Mac­cles­field through the ages

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