John Downing MBE


John Downing MBE John was arguably the most talented Fleet Street photographer of all time.

He was an extraordinary photographer and journalist at a time when newspapers were still the most important source of information for the public. The Golden Age of Fleet Street. Some photographers are lucky enough in their careers to produce perhaps one or two memorable images that capture the essence of the news. John produced so many iconic news images again and again, and they are etched in our memories forever.

When fellow board member Tom Stoddart and I were ‘cub photographers’ in Fleet Street, John was like a God to us, he was everything we wanted to be and his skills as a photographer and his news sense were truly remarkable, but that wasn’t his greatest strength. He was a great mentor and role model, a proud Welshman who sang in the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and his wit, charm and endless energy never ceased to amaze us.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis (1915 – 2003) leave the Grand Hotel in Brighton, after a bomb attack by the IRA, 12th October 1984. They and many other politicians were staying at the hotel during the Conservative Party conference, but most were unharmed. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910 – 1997) visits St James’ Church in Piccadilly, London, 8th July 1981. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
Afghan Boys (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)

John was a great friend to the Ian Parry Scholarship in our early days and for many years gave his time to join us for the annual judging and awards, always being there to offer advice to the young recipients of the scholarship.

We were lucky enough to spend the day with John last August at The Frontline Club in London. Despite his illness John made the journey to London to judge the awards with us.

On behalf of my fellow Trustees and our Patron Sir Don McCullin, we offer our condolences to Johns wife Anita and his family. We say farewell to a truly great man and our dear friend. Rest in peace John, you will always be remembered and revered as will the extraordinary images you gave us.

Aidan Sullivan. Founder, The Ian Parry Scholarship.

John at The Frontline Club, London, for the Ian Parry judging in August 2019 with Tom Stoddart (l) & Aidan Sullivan (r).