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Veteran reporter wins MBE

The oldest female working journalist in Kent has been awarded the MBE for her outstanding service to the community.

Barbara Butcher (84) – who last year
plunged 200ft
in a charity bungee jump – has been reporting the news around Ashford for more than 55 years.

The veteran Kentish Express writer officially retired from the staff many years ago but still contributes weekly both as a valued community correspondent, and with numerous stories from the groups and causes she has campaigned for and with over the decades.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours award came as a pleasant shock to the modest wordsmith who said: “It proves the pen is mightier than the sword. I still have my stamina and health and will continue to campaign as I have for more than half a century, and have no intention of ceasing my story chasing.”

Her interest in writing started aged five when she went to Kent College, Folkestone, and impressed teachers at the apparent ease with which she could express herself. She was always intrigued by the appearance of a women reporter at school prize days and was inspired to join the Kentish Express in 1945.

She quickly made a name for herself for producing swift and crisp stories and she was soon elevated to chief reporter.

When the company moved to a new headquarters in South Ashford she became editor of the Tuesday Express and news editor of the Kentish Express.

After the paper became part of the KM Group, and she had a major operation that kept her from the offices for three months, she stood down from her responsibilities but continued to work mainly from home.

Although she finds many of her contacts from bygone days are long departed, her local knowledge means she is never short of a story.

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