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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Russell funeral hears of a man who played a vital role in recording the sport

Alec Russell: one of a revered quartet of racing photographers
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Photographer Alec Russell, who died on February 27 at the age of 85, was described on Monday as a figure who played an important role in recording the history of modern-day horseracing.

Speaking at Russell's funeral yesterday, Timeform's Geoff Greetham said: "Alec began taking photos for Timeform in 1965 and contributed to the Racehorse annuals for 53 years.

"He also took photos for every one of the 42 jumping annuals. He always seemed to be working and shortly before he died he was talking about visiting Ruth Jefferson in order to get a portrait shot of Waiting Patiently for this year's book."

Greetham added: "Along with his great friend Ed Byrne he was one of the four photographers who played such an important role in recording modern-day horseracing.

Nothing seemed to bother him

"And how different it all was in those early day, as he got to know all the chemists near to racecourses where he could get his films developed. He would then take them to the train where they would go Red Star to Fleet Street."

Greetham also said Russell was so laid back that nothing seemed to bother him.

He recounted a story of a day at York when Russell arrived on the photographers' stand just as the field had been sent on it way for the first race. Just as they turned for home he casually reached into his pocket, pulled out and then unwrapped two rolls of film and loaded them into his two cameras, which he then bolted together.

He said: "He got the shots he wanted but most people would have put film into their cameras the night before, not during the first race – but that was Alec."

Russell is survived by his wife Shirley, his daughter Jo, who runs Jack Berry House, and his sons David and Alan. Among those attending the service were Peter and Tim Easterby, Edward Hide, Dale Gibson, Paul Hanagan, Brian Ellison, Nigel Tinkler, Peter Beaumont, and William Derby.

He was so laid back that nothing seemed to bother him
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