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Highly regarded and long serving director of Rex Features Martin Hillier dies aged 61

Martin Hiller, Director for more than 30 years of Rex Features photo agency. Photo supplied

Sad news reached the PAN office this week from the family of photo agency man Martin Hillier who passed away on the 30 January.

The photo of Martin above and this message is from Martin’s family:
Martin Hillier, a Director for more than 30 years of Rex Features photo agency, passed away on Wednesday 30th January. He was 61. Martin had been with Rex since 1974 and was very highly-regarded by everyone he worked with. He retired from the business when the family-owned Company was sold in an MBO in 2011 but kept in touch with friends and colleagues within the industry. Martin was sociable and generous, loyal and honest; he had many friends outside the business and was an active member of his local darts team.

Martin began his Fleet Street career as a picture-desk junior at the Daily Mail before being recommended to Rex’s sales Director, Allan Day who immediately took him on. He worked his way rapidly up through the ranks to become an integral part of the management team and was then made a Director of the growing business. He took a very active role in all aspects of the business and was soon considered “one of the family”, part of the foundations of Rex Features. He was always firm but fair, greatly respected and loved by staff and customers alike. He was a big-hearted man who always had time for everyone, but his family were the centre of his life.

Martin will be hugely missed by his wife, Linda, his three children, Richard, Lucy, Emma and his four grandchildren, along with all those who worked with him or knew him as a friend – with Martin, many were one and the same.

John Selby sent PAN this photo of Martin: “Martin was always happy to pose for Rex stock shots, this one taken in 1976” ©Shutterstock/Rex Features


John Selby sent PAN this photo: Martin with colleagues during the clean-up operation after the fire at Rex Features’ offices in East Harding Street, near Fleet Street. Left to right: Christine (Smith?), Chris McHugh, Clive Dixon, Barry Cerasoli, Eugene Adebari, Martin Hillier, Elizabeth Selby, Paul Cattini, Allan Day, John Selby, Frank Selby. Photographer unknown.

If you would like to add your memory of Martin please email me or use the comments box below.

Sam Barcroft, Owner at Barcroft Productions “Martin was a lovely man and took a chance on me when I was just 20 years old. I’ll be forever grateful that he gave me the chance to become a researcher at Rex. May he rest in peace.”

Dean Murray, Editoral Director, Cover Images (13 years at Rex Features) “Martin personified the way independent press agencies used to be run: he was cheerful, kind and generous, but his solid business skills, along with the Selby family’s, ensured Rex Features was not only incredibly successful, but also very warmly regarded by Fleet Street and beyond. When I think of Martin I know why the Rex Features staff were so loyal for so many years/decades: a true ‘family-style’ operation where there would be huge hampers at Christmas and a cheque to help along those with newborn babies. My condolences to Martin’s family, he will be remembered with fondness by many.”

Rex Features on PAN


  • “I remember young Martin when he joined the Daily Mail picture desk as a junior. He was a lovely guy and I was delighted for him when he joined Rex Features. I kept in touch with him intermittently over the years, and it was clear he was well respected within Rex and the industry. I’m so sad to learn that he passed away at such a young age and would like to pass on my sincere condolences to his wife and children. May he rest in peace

  • Tony Smith Picture Editor TV Magazine’s;

    I first met Martin at the Daily Mail and I was at Weekend Magazine, He went to Rex and I went to TV Times, We always met up at various functions we both played for the Rex five aside team, we shared some great times together and had some great laughs, he was always up for a laugh. It was a sad day when he left Rex and even sadder now that he is gone.
    Will always remember when Rex had their 50th year birthday bash and I made the speech what a laugh that was.
    My condolences to his wife and family RIP Martin never to be forgotten.

  • Very sad news, I remember Martin starting at Rex when we were in Gough Square, he was a great guy to work with, and always had a quip to handle any situation. He became a director but always had time for us all and we did share numerous happy times, he was generous and was always caring to the staff.
    My sincere condolences to Linda, Richard, Lucy and Emma. I will remember him as a true friend.

  • An absolute giant of a man in every sense. Rex to the core, decent, family man, honest, fun and always 100% supportive in everything we did together.

    Missed but never forgotten, a true friend

    up the ammers!

  • I remember meeting Martin when he joined the Daily Mail as a young man. He showed an incredible enthusiasm for the Fleet Street industry and was keen to learn all he could about photographs.
    When Allan, (Day) at REX , called to ask me for a reference, as Martin was applying for a job, I had no hesitation in recommending him, that was some 30 years ago.
    He proved to be a truly likeable and trustworthy person, a credit to Rex Features.
    He will be sadly missed by so many.
    My sincere condolences to his wife and family. Rest in peace Martin.

  • I met Martin through his daughter Lucy and was honoured to also have met his family. His funeral today was a celebration of a caring, humble and honourable English gentleman who will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.

  • Martin was well-loved and it was a privilege to encounter him one last time at Frank Selby ‘s centenary. Sometimes when you work with people you don’t realise how wonderful they are, the extent you are in debt to them for their quiet professionalism whilst you’re puffing yourself in your own pomp. Martin just trundled along in the background, seen it all, done it all!

    Such a sad loss for Linda, Richard, Lucy and Emma, such a great loss for us all. I loved Martin for his superb professionalism, but above all I loved him for his humanity, his endless patience, his human warmth. RIP.

    • Hi Herbie, I just wanted to say that I just read your message and your words really touched me. Many thanks for taking the time to comment and leave such a kind tribute.

  • I had the pleasure of treating Martin as our patient. Very nice, amiable and warm in character. We will miss him.

  • I would like to thank everyone for their very kind and heartfelt comments – it makes me feel so very proud to have been Martin’s wife.

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