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Tributes paid to "larger than life" columnist

A veteran journalist who wrote the questions for TV’s “Sale of the Century” and took part in one of the country’s first civil ceremonies for gay couples has died aged 67.

David Self, left, was for many years a columnist on the Cambridgeshire Times and Wisbech Standard as well as contributing to several national titles.

The openly-gay writer and broadcaster died at Peterborough Hospital after battling liver disease and cancer for some time.

Three years ago, he and his partner Majid Jawad tied the knot in a civil ceremony in Cambridgeshire just days after the new Civil Partnership Act came into force.

David was outspoken in his support of the rights of gay couples and on the eve of his civil ceremony wrote about how “attitudes had changed since the day when I could have been imprisoned for what I did in private with a consenting friend.”

Once asked how he had come to set the questions on ITV’s long running Sale of the Century, he said it had arisen after was “propositioned in a gentleman’s lavatory at Anglia Television.”

“I had just finished recording eight editions of a very cheap, late night short religious discussion show. The guy at the next stall looked at me sideways and said ‘would you like to write me some general knowledge questions?’

“By the time he’d washed his hands, I was a fallen man. In eight years on the game, I set 130 questions a week for 26 weeks of the year.”

John Elworthy, editor of the Cambridgeshire Times said: “David’s brief from the paper was to take an off beat look at Fenland life and some of its traditions and idiosyncrasies, which he did supremely well.

“David was one of those larger than life characters whose numbers, regretfully, seem to get fewer as each year passes. I very much mourn his passing.”

His muslim partner Majid, 47, with whom he shared his Fenland home said he felt “robbed” by his partner’s death and was struggling to come to terms with it.

Instead of presents at their civil partnership ceremony, the couple had asked for gifts of money to help pay for an eye operation for Majid’s mother who lives in Iraq and who he has been unable to visit for many years.

Majid described Mr Self “as a wonderful, gifted human being. He had such a sense of fun and was passionate about his writing and a real zest for life. He was also deeply religious and believed very much in the power of prayer. When he first became ill he was determined he would fight it – he was determined to prove the doctors wrong.”

His funeral service will take place at St Andrew’s Church, Whittlesey, on June 30 at 11.30am. It will be followed by interment at the family grave at South Lopham, near Diss.

  • You can add your own personal memories of David Self at his page on Lasting Tribute.