IT was nearly impossible to find someone in Barnsley who didn’t know Don Oakes when he worked as a Chronicle photographer and he loved every minute of those 40 years.

Don, 85, died on March 31 at Chapel View Care Home where he had spent the last six months of his life following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2023.

His funeral, on May 15, will take place at Ardsley Crematorium at 12.50pm, before people move to the Sun Inn, Monk Bretton.

Originally from South Emsall, Pontefract, he always loved photography and joined the Chronicle’s staff in August 1963 after finishing his national service in Belgium.

Though back then he probably couldn’t imagine that he’d spend almost 40 life-changing years with the paper.

His daughter, Gail Wagstaffe, said: “Photography was something he always wanted to do.

“He used to take photos when he was little with the cameras that they had back then.

“He absolutely loved his job at the Chronicle, he’d take me out with him every Saturday.

“People loved him, and he loved meeting people.

“Even when he got older he’d ask me to take him into town to get something and we’d be there for hours because people would always come to talk to him.

“That was probably his favourite part of the job, he just loved to talk.”

Staff have said they loved when Don would visit the office, as he would chat endlessly with them, so much so that they couldn’t get any work done.

However, his dream career unfortunately came to an end in 1998, when he was forced to take early retirement after being diagnosed with meningitis.

“He’d just turned 60,” Gail added.

“I remember because they’d put a birthday celebration in the paper for his 60th and he went ballistic he didn’t want anyone to know how old he was.

“He was also really into target shooting and would travel the country to take part. He was one of the best in South Yorkshire.

“I’m not sure how he started with that, it was just one of those things he always did.

“Eventually he even got my sister and husband into it.”

He is survived by his two daughters, Gail and Rachel Oakes, two grandsons Daniel and Jack

Wagstaffe and three great-grandchildren Harry, Theo and Grace whom Gail said he ‘adored’.

Barnsley Chronicle editor Andrew Harrod said Don’s love of people shone through his work.

“Readers liked Don and his work for the Chronicle meant he became a real local character.

“I can remember accompanying him on many jobs as a trainee reporter and he always had a wonderful way with people who were nervous about having their picture taken.

“He would quickly find a way to put people at ease.

“And no matter who he met, it would turn out he knew a relative, a friend or a neighbour.

“Some 15 yers after his retirement, he did come back to help compile a weekly column of old photographs which we featured in the paper.

“By this time, he was 75 and despite not being in the best of health, he turned up every Thursday afternoon, immaculately dressed as if he was back going out representing the paper again.

“I know he was very disappointed when his failing health meant he could no longer do this.”

Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Guide Dogs for the Blind, as Don ‘always loved labradors’.