TRIBUTES have been paid to one of this newspaper's longest-serving photographers, Paul Bramham, who has died aged 57.

His mother, Rosemary, told the Gazette he died in his sleep at home on Hallgarth, Kendal, on Sunday night.

In his 26-year career, Mr Bramham became as well known as the people he photographed. travelling to every corner of The Westmorland Gazette's patch to capture the news, from royal visits to agricultural shows.

He joined the photographic department as a talented 17-year-old trainee in 1979, and took this paper's first colour pictures in August 1989.

"Paul was a kind and generous man with a sense of humour," said former colleague Steve Barber. "He was a dedicated press photographer and extremely proud to work for The Westmorland Gazette."

During the Gazette's 200th anniversary celebrations last year, striking black-and-white images by Mr Bramham went on show at Kendal's Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry. They included the Duke of Edinburgh carriage-driving across Morecambe Bay, a barn fire at Dent, and a Sunderland flying boat.

"Paul was a very talented photographer and a news man through and through," said the Gazette's editor Andrew Thomas.

One memorable diary job saw the cameraman haul his heavy, pre-digital kit to the 757-metre summit of Ill Bell to photograph vandalised stone cairns. "He was always willing to go the extra mile to get the best possible picture," added Mr Thomas.

Mr Bramham was proud to serve as a Kendal town councillor for the past 14 years. A keen amateur military historian, he visited Northern Ireland, Bosnia and World War One sites.

Mayor of Kendal, Cllr Alvin Finch, said: "He was a fantastic colleague, a lovely man. He gave great service to Kendal Town Council over the years and his ward of Underley, and he did a lot for Hallgarth Community Centre. He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues."

Mr Bramham's parents, Rosemary and Arthur, live in Sedbergh. Mrs Bramham said her son's health never fully recovered after cancer surgery seven years ago. Praising his modesty and strength of character, she said he was "a country boy at heart", who loved the local area and its people. "He was approached several times by the nationals and he would never leave. He loved the Gazette."

Mr Bramham's funeral is to take place at Beetham Crematorium on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 12.30pm.