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News men pay tribute as 'one of the great Welsh editors' dies at 76

The second-longest serving editor of the South Wales Echo, Geoff Rich OBE, has died suddenly, aged 76.

He began his career in journalism with the South Wales Echo after joining the paper as a copy boy in 1946.

He worked his way to editor in 1971 and retired from the paper on December 31, 1990, at the age of 60.

Geoff, (right), was awarded the OBE in 1985, also championed the Echo Epilepsy Appeal to build an epilepsy unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Heath, Cardiff, and the Echo Latch campaign to build a bungalow for parents of children with cancer at Llandough Hospital.

Alan Edmunds, editor of The Western Mail, who worked on the Echo newsdesk under Geoff’s editorship, said: “He was one of the great Welsh editors of the old school.

“He gave very strong leadership and never left you in any doubt where you stood.

“He loved the Echo and was passionate about Cardiff and South Wales.

“He was a great champion of Cardiff and threw the full weight of the South Wales Echo behind its regeneration. I know he took great pleasure in seeing the city’s transformation.

“I remember his last day as editor when you could see how emotional he was feeling, even though he was not trying to let anyone see it.”

Former colleague Stuart Minton, news editor alongside Geoff for 14 years, also paid tribute.

He said: “He was respected for his journalistic talents throughout the country and was awarded the OBE for those talents.

“Geoff was a man of great determination who was always very fair, but very demanding. Geoff challenged every reporter on every story. He will be a great loss.”

Alastair Milburn, editor of the paper from 2002 to 2004, said: “The fact that Geoff was editor for longer than the five editors who succeeded him put together shows what a great man he was.

“He was one of the first people I sought out when I became editor, and his knowledge and experience of the editor’s chair was invaluable to me in my early days.

“There are many legendary stories about Geoff as an editor, including when he famously walked miles into work through the snow storm of January 1982, famously passing the houses of other staff who said they were snowed in and couldn’t make it into work! He wasn’t very happy about that!”

Robin Fletcher, Echo editor from 1996 to 2001, said: “Geoff Rich was a legend. He edited the Echo through an incredible time in Welsh life, ensuring his paper had its finger on the pulse of everything from the golden age of rugby to the Miners’ Strike.

“When I edited the Echo I always used his time in the chair as a reference point and I always felt it was an honour to follow in his footsteps.”