HE is instantly recognisable as a very public face of The News.
With his gilet full of note pads and pencils, and cameras around his neck, Malcolm Wells has photographed thousands of people during his long career.
But today we say a fond farewell to the inimitable ‘Wellsy’ as he retires after almost 25 years with the paper.
The 64-year-old chief photographer has covered major world events – from the fall of Ceausescu in the 1990s and the aftermath of life for the Romanian people, to the funeral of Princess Diana.
And he has also brilliantly captured the everyday events that make up life in our area.
Whatever the circumstances which have led Malcolm to be asked to capture a picture to illustrate a story – be it a child’s first day at school or a family who have suffered immense tragedy – he is always able to put his subjects at ease.
He said: ‘I think it’s because I’ve always treated people with respect, as I would like to be treated.’
Malcolm’s passion for photography started as a boy when his sister bought him a camera. He then worked in professional camera equipment retail for some of the biggest names in the business, taking pictures for national newspapers on an ad hoc basis.
And in 1990 he joined The News, and immediately became part of the rich fabric of newspaper life.
In 1992 he was the first photographer on the scene when a plane crashed onto the M27 after over-shooting the runway at Southampton airport in the morning.
Malcolm said: ‘I had a front page that day with the help of three despatch riders. Before the city final I had tracked down a lucky motorist who had narrowly missed death to his home in Gosport, and had an update with him holding The News with the aeroplane crash on the front!’
One of his favourite subjects to photograph has been the Queen, who he describes as ‘a unique and special lady’ who he holds in the highest esteem.
Thanks to Malcolm and his team, The News was the only newspaper in the country to carry a photograph of Princess Diana’s funeral on the same day.
One of his most distressing jobs was photographing the wreckage of the Wilhelmina J trawler which sank in the English Channel in 1991, with the loss of six crew.
Despite earning his retirement, Malcolm said he would miss the cut and thrust of the newsroom.
‘I really do enjoy hard news and I’ll miss taking calls 24 hours a day, and meeting such a wide variety of people from the whole spectrum of life.
‘But I hope to continue taking pictures for The News so people will still see me.’
Head of pictures Paul Jacobs said: ‘Malcolm will be sorely missed by everyone at The News. He is a true chief photographer who takes great front-page pictures.
‘He has always been a fantastic friend and colleague, helping everyone above and beyond the call of duty during his 24 years of service, and a great company ambassador as everyone seems to knows Malcolm.
‘It’s the end of an era and we wish Malcolm all the best.’