TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Northern Echo chief photographer, who has died aged 91.

Charles Westberg passed away at his home in Darlington on Sunday (December 9).

He and his wife, Phylis, who passed away in 2009, had three sons and four grandchildren.

Mr Westberg’s son, Phil, said his father had enjoyed his retirement, travelling extensively and spending time with his family.

He recalled a time the family had accidentally left Mr Westberg behind during a trip to a tourist attraction in South Africa.

“We were in two cars and each of the cars assumed he was in the other one,” explained Mr Westberg Junior.

“It took us a good 20 minutes to realise he was missing – it is one of my funniest memories.”

Northern Echo columnist Mike Amos worked alongside Mr Westberg during his time as the paper’s news editor.

He said: “He was a good, old-school journalist and an extremely nice man.

“He was very efficient and a good organiser – when things went well, he was very proud of it, and when they didn’t it was usually my fault.

“We had our arguments, but we got on fine, especially after he retired.”

Mr Westberg played a major role in The Northern Echo’s coverage of some of the biggest stories of the 1980s, including the Falklands war and the miners’ strikes.

He joined The Northern Echo in 1949 and retired in 1986, aged 65.

Mr Amos recalled a story the pair collaborated on, about a family from Bishop Auckland, who had their house burgled and presents stolen in the run-up to Christmas.

Former Northern Echo photographer Brian Clough described his old boss as an expert when it came to compiling ‘spot the ball’ competitions.

He said: “He had to find a picture where there was a ball in the photograph and he would spend hours in the dark room removing it.

“It was quite a skill and he was a great exponent of it – when he was off, we used to draw straws to see who would have to do it in his place, because he was so good at it.

“He was a great boss and a good lad.”

Mr Westberg enjoyed a get-together with former Northern Echo colleagues when he celebrated his 90th birthday in May last year.

His funeral will be held at Darlington Crematorium, at 1.15pm, on Tuesday (December 18).