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Retiring editor says farewell

South Wales Evening Post editor George Edwards has retired after a journalism career spanning 44 years.

A special function was held at Margam Orangery where colleagues, friends, politicians and showbiz personalities turned out to say farewell.

Lord Rothermere sent a personal tribute to George (pictured), that said he was leaving the paper with a circulation that was the envy of the group’s other newspapers.

Northcliffe Newspaper Group chairman Ian Park said the range of people present at the retirement lunch was a remarkable and deserving tribute to the retiring editor.

And Chris Rees, managing director of South West Wales Publications also paid tribute to George.

He said: “He has been a fine editor of this newspaper which has just had its most successful year ever.”

Looking back on his career, George said it was exactly what he wanted as a youngster in Matlock, 20 miles north of Derby, in the 1950s.

When he was 12, George wrote to the football writer of his local evening paper, the Derby Evening Telegraph, and told him his ambition was to have his job some day.

Eddie Giles sent an eight-page reply giving advice and on July 28, 1958, at the age of 16, George left school and joined the Telegraph as a trainee reporter.

He remembers his first wage as being £3.2s.6d a week for duties which included standing outside churches taking names for funeral reports and going to the local magistrates court and councils by bus or bike.

After a year he became the Telegraph’s first reporter for the town of Belper, and later joined the Telegraph’s sports desk.

In 1963 George decided to become a freelance in the Peak District and in August that year he won his scoop interview and a handshake with John F Kennedy who had called in to see his sister’s grave at Chatsworth Park after a presidential visit to Manchester.

The world’s press was not told of the visit, but George and his freelance colleague found out about it and were the only journalists present when JFK’s helicopter landed at Chatsworth. The story went round the world, three months before the president’s assassination.

At the age of 23 George was offered the job he had always wanted, to report on Derby County Football Club for the Telegraph.

George said: “That was wonderful in itself but it became even better when Brian Clough joined the club as manager in the mid-1960s.

“He took the club from the bottom of the old second division to the semi-finals of the European cup.

“I went everywhere with the team, covering all the European clubs and England’s top teams.

“I would meet famous soccer figures like Bill Shankly and Matt Busby – it was incredibly exciting.”

George became sports editor of the Telegraph at the age of 26 and after eight years he was appointed assistant editor.

In 1983 he moved to Swansea to become deputy editor of the Post, a position he held until he took over as editor in 1995.

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