Newbury Park photographer of Margaret Thatcher and Apollo 13 dies

Picture of Charlie Ley taken last year

Picture of Charlie Ley taken last year - Credit: Archant

The Apollo 13 launch, John Lennon in bed and Margaret Thatcher’s campaign for Number 10 were all captured by photographer Charles Ley, who died last week at the age of 87.

Denis and Margaret Thatcher

Denis and Margaret Thatcher - Credit: Archant

Charles, who worked for the Ilford Recorder and The Mirror, died of pneumonia on Thursday at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

He is survived by his widow Betty, 82, of Ardwell Avenue, Newbury Park, and their sons Jon, 52, and Tim, 46.

Jon, a sports journalist, said: “He loved people, he was a people person and got the best out of them and knew how to make them smile. He loved photographing boxing, racing and showbiz, he loved the big names.”

Charles started his career as a messenger on The Mirror and took a photography evening class near Fleet Street.


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He then set up a wedding photography business but later returned to the newspaper.

Jon said: “He covered some of the great events. He got sent to America to take pictures of the launch of Apollo 13 and was friends with Henry Cooper and Phil Collins.”

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Other highlights of his career included being embedded on the campaign bus of Margaret Thatcher when she was running for Prime Minister and photographing John Lennon, who used to call him “Charlie lad”.

One of his most famous photographs was of John Lennon and Yoko Ono sitting in bed at the Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam with a sign saying “Give peace a chance”.

“It showed the world that someone cared,” Jon added.

In 1986, Charles left The Mirror and spent a decade working at the Ilford Recorder.

Jon said: “He loved his time there as he was doing what he loved most – taking pictures.”

Charles’ funeral will be on Thursday at Forest Park Cemetery & Crematorium, Forest Road, Hainault from 1.30pm. Flowers are welcome or donations to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

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