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Editor who predicted career success has died at 59

Top newspaperman Roger Jeffery has died after an eight-month battle with cancer. He was 59.

He joined the now-closed Nuneaton Observer as a trainee reporter, straight from the town’s King Edward VI Grammar School, quickly moved to the Nuneaton Evening Tribune and told pals: “I’ll be the editor one day.”

And when he retired after a brilliant 35-year career in newspapers, it was from the editor’s chair at the Tribune.

After learning the basics on the Observer and the Tribune, Roger spent a few months working in Dagenham, Essex; went back to the Tribune; then left again to be chief reporter of the Mid-Devon Advertiser in Newton Abbot.

He met and married his sub-editor wife Sue before returning to Nuneaton, first as editor of the Observer – at 25, he was the youngest newspaper editor in Britain – then finally succeeding Eric Myatt as editor of the Evening Tribune.

Steve Read, former chief reporter of the Tribune and now an assistant editor of The Sun, said: “Roger was a superb journalist. The master. There wasn’t blood in his veins… it was ink.

“He would badger and bully us young reporters into getting the stories, push us into asking the extra question and getting the best quote. He would worry and tease a headline until it was just right. And if he had any doubts, he would stand over you and demand, terrifyingly, ‘Notebook! Show me your notes!’.

“He taught us well.”

Journalists who learned their trade under Roger include John West, now news editor of the Coventry Evening Telegraph, and Rob Beasley, chief sports reporter for the News of the World.

Roger retired five years ago, moving with Sue to Newton Poppleford, Devon. Their daughter Lisa, 31, is a music teacher in Warwick. The funeral will be held on Tuesday at 2pm in Newton Poppleford Parish Church.

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