Every year has its goodbyes and the past 12 months once again saw the journalistic profession bid farewell to some of its most distinguished figures, including three former regional daily editors.
As the old year draws towards its close, we continue our ‘Review of the Year’ series with a selection of the obituaries we have featured on HoldtheFrontPage over the past 12 months, along with some of the heartfelt tributes that have been paid by friends and colleagues.
Former Daily Record journalist
“He believed passionately in his profession, which he regarded as a significant force for good – provided the highest standards were adhered to.” – Former Daily Record chief sub-editor David Boyes
Sports reporter and sub-editor at The Bolton News found dead aged 33
“We had some great fun and I’ll miss his sense of humour. He was a talented journalist, with such a keen sense for news. He had a way of cutting through everything and getting straight to the story.” – Chief football reporter Marc Iles
Former journalist at the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and Shields Gazette
“Clive is one of my journalistic heroes. He was a larger-than-life character and a brilliant journalist.” – Jeremy Armstrong, Daily Mirror North East writer.
Former assistant editor of The Journal who moved into PR
“Had he stayed in journalism he would have undoubtedly been an editor within a relatively short time and, possibly, one of the great journalistic personalities of his era.” - Steve Hughes, motoring editor of the Chronicle, Journal and Gazette
Former Reading Evening Post reporter who fell from the top of a car park
“She was a journalist of great conviction, talent,determination and honesty who was a key member of a tremendous reporting team on the newspaper.” – Jon Ryan, Oxfordshire
Journalist turned TV presenter
“He made live broadcasting look effortless and had a tremendous range – able to tackle the big story with authority and the quirky item with warmth.” – BBC Director North Peter Salmon
Former Wisbech Standard editor who died in a car crash
“Being a newspaper man, he shunned the headlines and worked diligently and gained a well deserved reputation. One big decision that absolutely staggered me was when Bowthorpe Maternity Hospital was threatened with closure, and we were looking for something special to do in the battle to save it. Roger called with an idea – to have a picture on the front page of a baby being born. I told him it couldn’t be done, the hospital wouldn’t allow it. But we did it, and it was superb.” – Brian Asplin former editor of the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard
Former editor of Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus
“Like all journalists, he enjoyed the excitement of the deadline and the scoop, but he was more interested in the underlying issues and their long-term implications.” – Martin Wainwright, northern editor of The Guardian, who was at the T&A when Arnold arrived in Bradford.
Former Watford Observor trainee and News of the World whistleblower
“Sean joined us as a trainee and from the outset his ambition was to work for the News of the World, something that, of course, he went on to achieve with some distinction.” – Watford Observer editorial manager Frazer Ansell
Former editor of the Tiverton Gazette
“He was a proper, old-fashioned editor. As trainees, we called him Mr House, we might venture to call him ‘Bob’ in the pub but the rest of the time it was very formal. As young reporters we were in awe of him.” – Richard Best, who began his career on the Gazette and is now editor at the West Briton.
Photographer with the Wakefield Express who was one of the first on the scene at the Selby train crash
“Iain was a very well-known figure in the wider community after having worked for more than 20 years in Wakefield.” – Picture editor for Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, Scott Merrylees.
Former features editor at Bournemouth’s Daily Echo
“He splashed the first gay wedding, when two male bus workers were hitched, but the story didn’t go down well with the Poole Herald’s rather conservative readers. Tony was an inspiration to young journalists.” – Retired journalist Dave Till.
Former Scarborough Evening News editor
“He had offers, but he was never really tempted to move to a larger newspaper. He always said he couldn’t be away from the seaside.He was so enthusiastic about his town – he loved Scarborough. He really was a lovely, loyal man.” - wife Jean.
Former Leicester Mercury deputy news editor who was first on the scene of Kegworth plane crash
“He was a key member of the team over many years and he will be missed both as a colleague and friend. He loved the job of journalism and always wanted to make every story as well told as possible.” - Richard Bettsworth, the Mercury’s deputy editor
News editor at the Daily Record
“He was a great believer in the importance of the press and to serve so many years in such a stressful and demanding job pays great testament to his character.” - Former Record chief reporter Anna Smith
Western Gazette sports reporter who died of cancer aged 31
“He was the bravest man I have ever met. He fought until he was unable to fight any longer, but he could stand tall and hold his head high up until the end. He was brave and very dignified.” – Amanda Beard, the Western Gazette’s head of circulation.
Chief reporter at Brechin Advertiser who collapsed and died at home
“We have all been left stunned by this devastating news. Steve’s untimely death has robbed the local community of a man who knew Brechin and its people inside out. He was the old fashioned reporter – the one that would get out and about, meet the people and get the story.” – Editor Alan Ducat.
Former chief photographer at Wolverhampton’s Express and Star who died the day after his wife’s funeral
“They never spent any time apart until mum fell ill shortly before her death. It is fitting and, in a way, rather lovely that their lives ended so close together.” – Daughters Gill Bailey and Angie Nickless
Former Scottish journalist and NUJ chair who lost a long battle with alcoholism
“Joe Owens was a working-class intellectual, well-read and could argue politics ’til the cows came home’ but could still be full of fun.” - Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish organiser
Former Leigh Reporter editor who lost battle with cancer
“There was nothing Lesley enjoyed better than finding a good story and telling it well. These past few years she fought hard to keep herself away from a growing ‘churnalistic’ approach to news as the industry moved on.” - Malcolm Ryding, ex Reporter editor
Former Sports journalist at the Birmingham Gazette
“Ted was absolutely devoted to greyhounds and was so highly respected within the sport it was untrue. He was so reliable and knew everything and everyone in the greyhound world.” -Ian Johnson, former sports editor of the Birmingham Mail.
Former Grimsby Evening Telegraph editor who served in World War Two
“When he retired 30 years ago at the helm of a very happy ship, he was held in both high esteem and great affection.” – News editor Lucy Wood.
Former Liverpool Post and Liverpool Echo journalist
“When I got my first job as a wet-behind-the-ears trainee reporter, it seemed to me that not a leaf would fall in the borough without Peter knowing about it.” – Editor of weekly title the Wirral Globe Leigh Marles
Former Goole Courier sports editor who died in house fire
“He was a friend and colleague. He always brightened up the office and everyone enjoyed working with him. He had a great sense of humour.” – Goole Courier reporter Kassie Holliday
Former journalist who spent 40 years with the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail
“He was one of journalism’s old school, who gained the respect of everyone he met. They don’t make them like that anymore.” – Ex-colleague Jim Guthrie
Former Oxford Times editor
“Peter Sykes was meticulous in everything he did and the result was a thoughtfully edited newspaper that consistently won prestigious prizes within the newspaper industry for the quality of its news and features content and for visual impact.” – Former Oxford Mail editor Eddie Duller
Former sports reporter at The Argus
“He was hugely respected by his colleagues at The Argus and his name will always be synonymous with his robust reporting of Albion and Sussex cricket.” – Argus sports editor Chris Giles
Revered former assistant editor of Surrey Comet
“What most impressed me, and all the other journalists who worked with him, was his awesome knowledge of English, his insistence on impeccable grammar and punctuation, and his brilliance as a headline writer.” – Former Comet editor Brian West
Former Derby Evening Telegraph journalist who was once youngest news editor
“I’ll always remember Chris as a journalist who remained cool, calm and collected even when under great pressure. He embraced modern technology with gusto and was a computer whizz-kid.” – Motoring correspondent for the paper Robert Maddox.
Former Leicester Mercury journalist who transformed sports coverage in the UK
“We all owe David a huge debt for the way he established the Telegraph as the pre-eminent sports newspaper.” Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher