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Editor who saved football club from merging with rivals dies aged 85

Peter HileyA former regional daily editor whose campaigning saved a football club from merging with their local rivals has died aged 85.

Tributes have been paid to Peter Hiley, pictured left, who edited the Reading Evening Post for 13 years.

Towards the end of his tenure between 1971 and 1984, Peter spearheaded an “often hostile” campaign to save Reading Football Club when disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell wanted to merge them with Oxford United in 1983 and rename them ‘Thames Valley Royals.’

The campaign earned him the title of Newsperson of the Year in the Southern Press awards and Peter later enjoyed the irony that Reading’s first promotion to the Premier League, English football’s top tier, coincided with Oxford dropping out of the Football League in 2006.

He also took huge pride in the staff he trained to go on to hugely successful careers within the newspaper industry, while a 13-year-old Kenneth Branagh got his first public profile as a 13-year-old book reviews editor under Peter’s editorship, having been appointed to the role by then-Post women’s editor June Sparey.

After leaving the Post in 1984 Peter set up his own magazine Thames Valley Heritage and also worked at Today, the AA, the Kenya Standard and the Engineering Council as well as teaching the next generation of journalists, a cause close to his heart.

In retirement he was involved with the Past Rotarians, and was named president of the national association as well as twice holding the same position at its Bournemouth branch.

Peter also enjoyed travelling the world and spending time with his family, who were by his side when he died at a care home in Bournemouth after battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Son Graham said: “Although this horrible disease robbed him of his amazing intellect, the one thing it couldn’t destroy was his 60-year love for his wife who was with him to the end. His last words were: ‘You’re beautiful’ and that said it all.

“He died about 10pm on Friday January 27 but the official date was given as just past midnight on the 28th when the doctor finally arrived. As a journalist he was a stickler for accuracy so that would have really annoyed him.

“He will be greatly missed not just by his family and friends but also by the many journalists he worked with and mentored.”

Peter leaves a wife Christine, two children and five grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Bournemouth Crematorium on Tuesday7 February at 2.30pm. Peter’s family have requested bright colours and family flowers only, with donations to the Alzheimers Society via

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  • February 1, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Peter and I were the Batman and Robin of Today, working in the dungeons of Vauxhall Bridge Road to save the world from wobbly colour – and fighting off the attentions of editor David Montgomery! Through it all Peter was a true gent and we even teamed up later in the training rooms of PMA helping another generation have as much fun as we did.
    Thoughts are with Graham and the wider family – perhaps we should all wear a bow tie in Peter’s honour!

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