Tributes pour in for former Comet photographer and NHDC chairman

Alan Millard, former chairman of North Herts District Council, has passed away. Picture: Archant

Alan Millard, former chairman of North Herts District Council, has passed away. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Tributes have flooded in after a former Comet photographer and NHDC chairman sadly passed away last month.

Alan Millard, former Pictorial and Comet photographer, councillor for Hitchin Walsworth Ward for 11 years and former North Herts District Council chair, passed away on Saturday, May 30.

Born in Jackman’s Place, Letchworth, Alan started as a photograher at the Hertfordshire Pictorial in January 1968 and kept sharing his pictures with the Comet for free long after officially retiring 40 years later, insisting it “kept him busy”.

Alan was elected councillor for Walsworth in 2007, where he served until 2018.

In that time, he was vice-chair of the council and chair of the council between 2017 and 2018. He served on the Hitchin Committee, North Hertfordshire Highways Partnership, Planning Control Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

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Maureen Millard, who married Alan in 1968, speaks fondly of their time together. She said: “Alan would have done anything for anyone and he always enjoyed helping people.

“He spent a lot of time at various committees, with the council and outside bodies like the Walsworth Community Centre and was a special constable with Hertfordshire Constabulary for nine years.

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“It’s very nice to know he was well respected in the community. It was his life.”

John Buckledee, former Comet editor between 1977 and 1983, said: “Alan Millard was already a key member of the Comet staff when I became editor at Hitchin in 1977. He was a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-day newspaperman, and if we were short of a striking photo for the front page he would find one.

“He was a likeable chap, well-known and popular throughout North Herts, so it was a bit of shock when his presence was not appreciated on one of his jobs.

“Alan was a member of the team which changed the Comet, originally a sold weekly called the Pictorial, into the present free-distribution newspaper.”

And Darren Isted, who worked with Alan in the local press for more than 25 years, said: “The news that Alan passed away came as a great shock, especially as I know he had been taking pictures up until very recently.

“There would always be debates with the picture desk on all subjects but you could guarantee that Alan would always come back from a job with at least an upright and a landscape, for those in newspapers who needed a picture to go with a story that was always what was needed.

“If you had the chance to get to know him more personally what actually shone through was his humanity and willingness to help people in need. Alan did so many good deeds which people never heard about and for me this how I will always remember him.”

Cllr David Levett said: “A man of few words, but when he did speak out what he said was well thought out and relevant and had all the more impact for that.

“Alan will be much missed by many people and I am one of them, he and I shared a love of photography and I learnt a lot from him about photo journalism from his many years working for the Comet and have had a number of my pictures published as result.

“Alan was a big man with a big heart, a gentle giant and a true gentleman whose life revolved around the community in which he lived and the many organisations of which he was a member and represented. Rest in Peace, Alan.”

Cllr Martin Stears–Handscombe, leader of the council and the Labour and Co-operative Party, said: “Alan’s sudden death has come as a great shock to his many friends in all parties on the Council and in the community.

“At any public event it seemed that Alan would be there with his camera, always happy to chat and make people feel at their ease.

“As a journalist, photographer and councillor he made an immense contribution to North Herts. He was a great encourager and good friend and he will be sorely missed.”

Cllr Paul Clark, NHDC deputy leader and leader of the Liberal Democrat group, added: “Alan will be sadly missed, I have known Alan for nearly 30 years, first meeting him at Hitchin Rugby Club on a Sunday morning where our children played rugby with the mini section of the Club and despite our political differences our friendship has endured over the years.

“We were always able to talk through issues putting residents first and looking for answers for the benefit of the town, the district and its people.”

Alan’s funeral will be held on the June 19 at North Herts Memorial Park, and the family says once the pandemic has cleared there will be a moment for the wider community to remember Alan’s life.

Alan leaves behind his daughter Lucy, two sons Robert and Phillip and five grandchildren.

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