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Funds flood in for book showcasing work of ex-Daily Express photographer with terminal cancer

A former Daily Express chief photographer who has terminal lung cancer has raised more than £12,000 in one day to publish a book of his work.

John Downing, a seven-time winner of British Press Photographer of the Year, plans to put the book of his pictures together during his final months.

John Downing: Legacy is set to be published by Bluecoat Press and is described as a “long overdue celebration of his illustrious career”.

A crowdfunding page for the book was launched yesterday by Bluecoat with a target of £8,000, reaching its target within six hours. At the time of writing it has raised some £12,800 thanks to more than 200 donors.

The Kickstarter page states: “Press photographers are often overlooked for their contribution to photography but it is their images that define how we see the world’s events unfolding on a daily basis.

“John Downing’s work is right there at the pinnacle of photojournalism.”

Downing was chief photographer on the Daily Express between 1985 and 2001 and was awarded an MBE for services to journalism in 1992.

He was one of the first journalists to visit Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear explosion with writer Kim Willsher.

He was also the only photographer inside the Grand Hotel in Brighton when the IRA bomb exploded in a failed attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet in 1984.

A mother holds her dying son, believed to be a Chernobyl victim. Picture: John Downing

In 1972 Downing was imprisoned and beaten by soldiers under the regime of dictator Idi Amin in Uganda.

He managed to keep his camera with him throughout and the subsequent pictures splashed on the Daily Express with the headline: “World exclusive pictures taken inside the black hole of Kampala.”

The photographer’s assignments over his 50-year career took him to more than 100 countries, including war zones in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Beirut, Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia, and all seven continents. Closer to home he covered countless royal and political events.

Picture (top): John Downing/Getty Images

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