31 August 2014

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Journalist who helped launch seaside paper dies

A freelance journalist who helped set up a seaside weekly newspaper has died aged 62.

David Briggs, left, was instrumental in founding the Skegness News in October 1985, and contributed news, features and photographs to it for 15 years.

Publishers Mortons of Horncastle were persuaded to launch the News partly after David wrote them a compelling letter, suggesting such a paper would fit well with their sister weeklies the Horncastle News, the Market Rasen Mail and the Louth Leader.

The titles were eventually acquired by Johnston Press who merged the News with their existing title, the Skegness Standard.

Former colleague Jim Wright said: “David could turn his hand to anything – council meetings, crime, flower shows, garden fetes, investigations and features about historic Skegness and the changing shape of seaside tourism.

“Because he was born and brought up in the resort and was devoted to the life of the community, he had oustanding contacts which were often invaluable.

“I took over as editor of the News in January 1986 and was endlessly impressed by his enthusiasm and good humour. He never once complained about headlines or having his copy cut. He simply took pleasure in helping to chronicle the life of the town.

“On the first morning of 2000, when most people were still sleeping off the celebrations of the previous evening, he set his alarm clock an hour before dawn. He then headed for the beach and took a series of stunning photographs – one of which made the front page – of the first sunrise of the millennium.”

One of David’s biggest scoops occurred literally on his own doorstep when a serious fire swept through the family home.

After ensuring the safety of Anthea and their two children – Nicholas and Susan – David raised the alarm. While waiting for the arrival of the fire brigade, he attempted to beat out the flames with his bare hands.

Then, instead of then going to hospital for treatment for burns and shock, he went inside his gutted home, found a piece of scorched paper and – despite his typewriter being half-melted – tapped out a gripping eyewitness account of what had happened.

Still sooty from his endeavours, he then dashed to submit his report to the News five minutes before deadline.

David collapsed and died in the arms of his wife Anthea at home earlier this month having suffered from failing health for the past three years.

His funeral service took place last Friday at St Paul’s Baptist Church in Skegness. Mayor of Skegness Coun Neil Pimperton was among the mourners.

Comments

Roy Bushby (25/02/2009 08:24:22)
I never met David but I have met many journalists and photographers like him. That’s what journalism is all about.

Richard Emra (10/03/2009 21:07:16)
David was unique in that he was always keen to say what he believed, rather than what might be considered to be the ‘correct’ answer. I only knew him from around 1995. But he made Skegness come alive in a very personal way.



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