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Tributes paid to 'journalistic uncle' Bob James

Tributes have been paid to journalist, trainer, author and typographer Bob James, who has died at his home in Sussex aged 72.

An inspiration to thousands of journalists, he was also an expert typographer, a designer, and an enthusiast for journalism and newspapers.

He began his career at The Northern Echo in 1949 before becoming sports editor of the late Evening Despatch in Darlington, but it was as a trainer and an authority on design and typography that he made his mark.

He worked at Harlow College, where he met his wife Sally, and with the NCTJ in Epping, before becoming group editorial development manager with Westminster Press in 1974, a position he held until his semi-retirement in 1993.

He was chairman of the judges for the British Press Awards, played a leading role in the Commonwealth Press Union, and was co-author of The Compleat Sub-Editor and author of Newspaper Design Today.

Paying tribute, Peter Sands, who succeeded Bob at Westminster Press, said: “There are few people you meet in a lifetime who leave a mark as deep as Bob did. He touched thousands of lives, mine included.

“His deep knowledge of typography, his passion for journalism and his infectious enthusiasm for life will always be part of us.”

Mel Vasey, editor of the Wharfedale Observer, said: “Bob must have been a ‘journalistic uncle’ to countless people and I have yet to meet a more genuine, nicer guy in this oddball industry we choose to work in.”

Malcolm Starbrook, former editor of the Croydon Advertiser, said: “Bob was a master-craftsman whose love of sub-editing and design inspired a generation.

“For him the sub’s job was simply the best in the world. It was a belief that those of us trained by Bob quickly came to share.”

Bob leaves a widow, Sally, and two grown-up children, David and Eliza.

His funeral will be held at 3.15pm on Thursday, December 16, at South Chapel, Woodvale Crematorium, Lewes Road, Brighton. Family flowers only. Donations to the RSPB. If you would like more details please call Peter Sands on 01424 435991 or on e-mail at

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