Belfast Telegraph

Popular Coleraine photographer Mark Jamieson laid to rest

Hundreds hear fond tributes to 'wee man'

By Ivan Little

It was the sort of desperately sad photo opportunity that would have presented Mark Jamieson with the chance to capture one of his trademark elusive, exclusive pictures from amid the hundreds of mourners at a funeral in Coleraine yesterday.

But tragically it was Mark (right) himself who was the focus of his own untimely funeral, leaving it to others to record the poignant images yesterday that would adorn the pages of newspapers today.

It was a task made all the more difficult for many of the photographers because they were there as mourners as well as cameramen and had to battle with their emotions as they took pictures of the farewell to one of their own.

It was the same struggle for purveyors of the written word as well.

Mark died on Sunday and the esteem in which he was held was reflected in the massive turnout for the funeral at the Church of Christ on Artillery Road.

Hundreds of mourners weren't able to get into the church and the service was relayed outside via a PA system.

Newspaper editors and journalists from across Northern Ireland were there to pay their respects.

The mourners also included Mark's close friend Liam Beckett, the football and motorcycling pundit, as well as other leading figures from the sports world.

They included former IFA President Raymond Kennedy, ex-Northern Ireland international Victor Hunter and Milk Cup pioneer Victor Leonard.

Politicians were also present. They included the former Justice Minister Clare Sugden who described Mark as part of the fabric of Coleraine.

Mark's brother Sam paid a moving tribute to him who he said would be "sadly missed" by his family, including his 88-year-old father Tommy (right).

Sam talked of how the Troubles impacted on his brother and recalled how he was one of the first people on the scene of the killing of four workmen and the attempted murder of a fifth in Castlerock in March 1993.

The fact that 60-year-old Mark, who laughingly referred to himself as The Legend, appeared to know everyone in Coleraine - by name as well as by sight - was highlighted by BBC sports journalist Grant Cameron, a long-time colleague of Mark's on the Coleraine Chronicle, who delivered the eulogy to the "wee man" that had mourners shedding tears of laughter and grief in almost equal measure.

He said Mark was the best in the photographic business - he was in a league of his own.

Mr Cameron called Mark a local celebrity and he recalled that he always approached people, including former Prime Minister John Major and ex-heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson with the introduction: "Mark Jamieson - do you know me?"

He said: "He photographed princes and paupers, prime minsters and beauty queens. Some of the biggest names: the Queen, Margaret Thatcher, George Best.

"And he covered the aftermath of horrendous car bombings and murders."

The journalist recalled how Sir Alex Ferguson once asked him in Manchester if "the wee photographer in Coleraine was still there".

Sir Alex said that when Mark photographed him he constantly offered him advice on tactics for his Old Trafford team.

Mr Cameron added: "He always had the Rev Ian Paisley eating out of his hand at the Twelfth of July, adopting a different pose each time."

He had him playing bagpipes, beating a Lambeg drum and even had him saddled up on King Billy's horse.

But Mr Cameron also reflected on the "trials and tribulations" in Mark's life.

"The death of his wife Donna broke his heart as did his lovely daughter Lynsey's illness a few years later," he said.

"His joy was unbounded when his darling daughter recovered. He doted on her; his number one girl."

Mark was buried at Coleraine cemetery where recently he had uncovered a story for the Belfast Telegraph about the theft of wreathes from graves.

Belfast Telegraph


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