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>> Busman’s paradise

>> A snapper to remember - By John Duckers

Shrewsbury has received the ‘Coach Friendly Town Award’ from the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT). Phil Bateman MBE, the CPT’s regional manager West Midlands, said: “Our award recognises and highlights the work that towns, attractions and local authorities undertake to improve coach access and driver facilities.” The award was presented to Shrewsbury at the CPT’s West Midlands Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony, at The Drayton Manor Hotel, Tamworth, in February.

Tragic news – Tony Flanagan, terrific photographer and a lovely man, died in early February. He passed away with his family around him after a brave fight against cancer, aged just 60. He is survived by his son Alex. Flan, as he was affectionately known, was widely known in the West Midlands business community for his work with corporates as well as coverage of events for the local media. He will be mourned by journalists, business leaders and the many other sectors he touched across the region. Flan was one of those ‘salt of the earth types’ who would do anything for anyone, readily going out of his way to help. He lived life to the full, had a fantastic contacts book and a huge circle of friends. He should be remembered sitting on a bar stool, enjoying banter in one of his many haunts, surrounded by laughter and companionship. It sometimes got him into scrapes – he kept getting banned from his local – but always bounced back. And he had a wealth of tales about the antics he and others got up to when on newspaper assignments – along with bundles of receipts to fool the keenest accountant scrutinising an expenses claim. Tony began his career as a photographer in 1972 when he joined the Birmingham Evening Mail as a trainee. He spent 15 years with the newspaper as a staff photographer, and won a number of awards during that time. He went freelance in 1987 and worked for the national and regional press, and for many Midlands PR agencies, public bodies and business organisations. Contrastingly, you would find him on a red top stakeout one day and a diary function for the Birmingham Post the next. Tony never turned down work and, if double-booked, passed it on to a colleague in the profession in need of an earner. Highly respected, he could produce quality and imaginative snaps from the dullest of jobs. Like all good photographers, he had a persuasive manner which soon had people relaxing in his company and often contorting themselves into shapes and stunts they would never ordinarily have been up for. His home was in the Worcestershire village of Feckenham, a house called the Old Cider Mill, appropriate as cider was always Flan’s favourite poison. He invested in property and rented out several cottages there. A widower, he had a twinkle in his eye for the ladies and the patter to go with it. Andy Skinner, of ASAP PR, and a chum of Tony’s for 35 years, said: “He was a real professional and a great friend to so many of us.” Ed James, chairman of Birmingham Press Club, where Flan was a director, said: “Flan was a great friend to me personally, a hugely talented photographer and one of Birmingham’s most colourful characters.” Press Club vice-chairman Fred Bromwich, who first worked with Tony on the Birmingham Post & Mail more than 40 years ago – and who shared a number of years with him as Press Club directors – said: “He was a photographic magician – full of charm, confidence, and a true professional who created so many award-winning images. He will be sadly missed – but at least we will all have some fantastic memories of him to cherish.”

>> Cab making motors again The production of London black cabs in the Midlands is set to restart soon after struggling LTI was sold for £11.4m to Chinese car maker Geely. LTI went into administration in October, losing more than half its workforce at the Holyhead Road plant in Coventry. But Geely has now announced it has acquired the business and principal assets from LTI owners Manganese Bronze Holdings. The deal, which was agreed with administrators PwC, will safeguard production in the UK and the remaining 80 jobs at the plant in Coventry. The world famous cab maker was forced into administration after more than 400 cabs were recalled with faulty steering boxes. The faults were discovered after two cab drivers reported problems with steering in its TX4 models, which were only introduced into production in late February last year. A total of 99 workers in the city were made redundant.

>> Drink firm’s triple measure Micro brewer Purity is building a new £1.4m brewery on farmland near its Midland headquarters. Purity Brewing Co, based near Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, will triple the amount of beer it produces when the project is completed in March. The business, which first launched in 2006, is also planning to launch a brand new beer towards the end of the year.

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