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Sentinel stalwart files final copy after career spanning six decades

Long-serving journalist Eric Snape has retired from The Sentinel in Staffordshire after a career spanning six decades.

His roles at the paper have varied from office boy to sports editor and finally classical music critic, but he has now decided to put down his pen for the last time so he can spend more time with wife Audrey.

Over the last 25 years, he has earned a reputation as a knowledgeable reporter on North Staffordshire’s classical music scene, and his colleagues say his contributions will be sadly missed.

But sport has also played a big part in Eric’s life, and it has been these two major interests that have defined his career.

Eric, (75), said: “I left school in 1947 and for some reason I wanted to be a journalist. I wrote to the then-editor E N Scott and he gave me a trial.

“In those days the office was in Hanley and when I got there I was really just a glorified office boy, fetching the tea and cigarettes. Of course, everyone smoked back then, and the office was filled with smoke.

“I’d done some sport in school. Cricket was my main interest and so I soon got to report on that. The Sentinel covered cricket quite extensively in those days, as it was much more popular.

“It was then I moved to the sports desk. Peter Buxton was the sports editor then and when he retired I took over.

“In 1982 I took over as music critic from Jack Oliver, who was in his 80s at the time. And so I was sports editor by day, and music critic by night, and that’s how it went on for a while.”

Since retiring as sports editor in the 1990s, Eric has concentrated on his role as The Sentinel’s classical music critic, attending concerts and performances at venues across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

Having first joined The Sentinel in the 1940s, Eric has witnessed huge changes, both in North Staffordshire and in the world of journalism.

He added: “It was a lot different back then. It was all hot metal, whereas nowadays everything is done on computers.

“The opening of the Regent Theatre was one of the highlights of my time at The Sentinel. But I think Stoke-on-Trent is very fortunate in having a place like the Victoria Hall. It has marvellous acoustics and so music always sounds good in there.”

Sentinel columnist John Abberley said: “I know Eric was acutely aware of the privilege of taking the critic’s seat at Victoria Hall – The Sentinel has always had a tradition of excellence in this field – and aware that he was following a distinguished line of critics.

“Eric has always let his pen do the talking, he’s never been a gregarious type, and has been a pivotal figure in music circles for years.

“He will be greatly missed by our readers, I would say he will be almost impossible to replace.”