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Rail tragedy cuts short life of former editor

Don Smith, founder editor of the St Albans Review in the early 1970s, has died after being struck by a train.

He took charge of the St Albans Observer’s sister paper from shortly after its foundation in 1973 to 1978, when he became editor of the Herts Advertiser, a position he held until 1992.

His son Nick paid tribute and said: “He established the Review as the leading local newspaper. There were some major St Albans stories covered and broken in that time.

“He was quite a figure in St Albans. He knew a worked with a huge number of people there.”

  • Don at the Review
    offices in 1974
  • Don started out in journalism in 1960 as a junior reporter with the Hampstead and Highgate Express, where he worked for 12 years, eventually becoming deputy editor.

    He moved to St Albans in 1965, with his wife and four children. Eight years later the Review’s founders Roy Scott and Alan Drake took him on as editor of their new free weekly paper.

    He moved from St Albans to Hitchin in 1977. After three years with the Herts Advertiser, he moved to the Luton News in 1982, concentrating on features, but was forced through ill health to retire early in 1992.

    Andy Wright, who worked with him as the Review’s photographer for many years, said: “I remember his incredible activity.

    “He was always on the go, and full of energy. He was so enthusiastic about the paper.

    “We used to work until midnight sometimes, putting the paper to bed, and we would then have a meal together in the early hours of the morning.

    “He just seemed to be on the go the whole time.”

    Don Smith died on Friday morning at Stevenage railway station at the age of 70, leaving his wife Sylvia, four children and eight grandchildren. An inquest is expected to be opened into Mr Smith’s death. The funeral will be held at 2.15pm on Tuesday at St Mary’s Church, Hitchin.