Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale has unfortunately had to turn down a late offer to share the podium at a national conference with such diverse characters as William Hague and Max Boyce – because he has a prior engagement in Hollywood!
Don received a call this week from Society of Editors executive director and company secretary Bob Satchwell to talk about his ‘miscarriage of justice campaign’ for Stephen Downing, at the society’s national conference next month at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff.
This prestigious event has already attracted such prominent speakers as Jamie Shea, from NATO; Rosie Boycott, editor of the Daily Express; Nigel Dacre, editor of ITN; Brian Macarthur, associate editor of the Times; Alex Salmond, from the Scottish National Party; John Wadham, director of Liberty; the Metropolitan Police Commissioner; the Rt Hon William Hague, leader of the Opposition; and Welsh comedian Max Boyce.
“I am very disappointed that I will not be available to talk at this important event,” explained Don. “But I have already booked to go to America and on the same day will be touring the studios in Hollywood!
“I am very flattered though to have been asked to speak at such a prestigious gathering and have told Bob, perhaps next year!”
Don arranged some time ago to visit former Matlock Town soccer star and Wembley cup-winning hero Steve McKay at his home in California, and will actually be in Los Angeles and the Hollywood area on the day he was asked to speak.
Don added: “It’s ironic, I am offered the opportunity of a lifetime to visit the States and it clashes with another unique occasion to talk to some very prominent characters. The most amazing and vital fact though is that these same influential people have actually heard about the campaign and appreciate the effort put in by a small team of local journalists.
“We tend to think that the Mercury and other local papers are only read locally – but it is most gratifying to note that such an important community campaign is regarded with equal interest by national newspaper editors and a host of TV and radio outlets.”
The Downing campaign has also been featured on several world web news sites and has attracted moderate interest in the States.
Steve McKay has kept him posted of developments overseas and said that the staff at his own company have followed the progress with interest.
The Mercury man has been asked to take some of his Joe Cocker books with him to LA – as the former Sheffield rocker is still a cult figure in the US and these nostalgic memories and pictures are eagerly devoured by a host of fanatical fans.
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