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A master craftsman lost – tribute to a newspaper man who died at 77

Fiona Phillips, editor of the Western Telegraph in Pembrokeshire, looks back on the life of former colleague Vernon Scott who died last weekend.

Welsh journalism has lost one of its master craftsmen with the death of Vernon Scott.

Although he was born in Milford Haven, Vernon had worked in Pembroke Dock, first for the West Wales Guardian and then the Western Telegraph for the best part of 50 years.

During that time he developed such a deep interest and affection for the town that he was recognised as an authority on all things relating to the area. He was, quite simply, Mr Pembroke Dock.

Vernon provided the editorial presence at the Western Telegraph’s offices, first in Bush Street and then in Meyrick Street, and his wife Joan ran the advertising department.

They were joined by a whole host of fledgling reporters who cut their journalistic teeth in Pembroke Dock before moving on to other jobs. The list of Vernon’s colleagues reads like a Who’s Who of British journalism.

No one who worked in that office was every merely a workmate as Vernon took a keen interest in all who worked with him, providing practical support as well as passing on his expertise. He was generous in his encouragement and I am proud to describe him as my mentor and my friend.

I first went to work in the Pembroke Dock office in 1982 and quickly became embroiled in life there. We shared the premises with a dentist and a dental technician and various office cats.

There was also Joan and Vernon’s dog Jason who, despite being entreated to stay at home each morning, could run over the Barrack Hill faster than Vernon could drive around it and would be duly sitting on the office doorstep by the time they arrived each day.

I must have driven Vernon to distraction but he was endlessly supportive. If he taught me one thing it was that journalism is about people and their stories.

Whether Vernon was writing a church paragraph or covering a major incident, his approach was always the same. The consummate professional, he meticulously researched and corroborated his information before turning out immaculate copy in an instant.

He was never happier than when he was talking to people and telling their stories. He would berate me for using a cliché but I can think of no better way to describe him that by saying we shall not see his like again.

Vernon was born in Milford Haven in 1930 and spent his boyhood years during the Second World War in the town.

The war had a profound effect on him and he was recognised as a leading authority on Pembrokeshire in the war years.

His book Inferno 1940 documents the story of the Llanreath tank fires and the men who gave their lives fighting the blaze.

He did National Service in the RAF and then joined the staff of the West Wales Guardian. In 1965 he, quite literally, picked up his pencil and walked around the corner to the Western Telegraph offices where he worked for 30 years until his retirement in 1995.

He carried on writing and for many years contributed his ‘As I See It’ column to the paper. He was also well known for his performance abilities and was a stalwart amateur actor.

He was a member of the Probus club and a founding member of Pembroke Dock Museum Trust. He was also a passionate football supporter and spent many hours at Marble Hall and later attended Pembroke Boro’s matches.

He leaves his wife Joan, children Helen and Paul and six grandchildren.

To read tributes from Vernon’s friends and colleagues or leave your own visit the Western Telegraph’s website.


Dianne Woods (10/02/2009 09:11:18)
Vernon Scott was able to tell me about my Grandfather, John Fredrick Thomas, one of the five fireman to die in the fire at Pembrookshire in 1940. I thank him for this, as I would not have know the circumstances of his death otherwise. God Bless
Dianne Woods