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Award-winning deputy editor moves on

A multi-award winning deputy editor who helped uncover an heroic yet untold story from World War II has left his newspaper.

Phil Shanahan, left, has spent 23 years with Central Independent Newspapers and spent his last day in the Tamworth Herald office on Friday.

The undoubted legacy of his time with the Herald will be leading the paper’s ten-year fight to gain proper recognition for local naval hero Colin Grazier.

Phil’s 2008 book, The Real Enigma Heroes, charts how he first discovered the untold story of Grazier and another sailor who drowned after recovering some codebooks from a sinking German U-boat.

Experts at Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, used these books to crack the Enigma code and shortened the war by at least a year.

Due to the on-going campaign run by Phil and the Herald, their stories finally gained public recognition and memorials such as the Colin Grazier Hotel now exist in the Midlands town in testimony to their sacrifice.

Phil said he was leaving as a result of a re-organisation of the company.

“These are challenging times and the newspaper group has had to make changes to ensure it remains strong in the future,” he said.

“During the re-structuring process I was offered a wider role here, but for various reasons it was something that I decided not to pursue.

“The time is right to seek new challenges. I am leaving with a lot of goodwill on both sides, but of course there is inevitably some sadness too.

“I have had some fantastic times here. I have worked with some brilliant journalists who also happen to be the nicest people you could hope to meet.”

Phil started his CIN career with the Herald’s sister title the Lichfield Mercury in 1986 where he progressed up to chief sub-editor.

He then moved to the Herald in 1990, in the same role, before becoming assistant editor then deputy editor in 1999.

His work on the Colin Grazier story saw him enjoy an audience with Prince Charles and Camilla while the Herald was crowned best paid-for weekly by the Newspaper Society in 2007.

In 2000, he accepted an award from the Celebrity Guild of Great Britain on behalf of the Enigma heroes and three years later was presented with the Freedom of Bletchley Park.

Phil now plans to take a break before firming up his plans for the future.

“The Colin Grazier story is something that I hope I will always have some sort of involvement with and I have been getting several requests to talk to groups on the story and set up mini-exhibitions,” he added.

“This enables me to spread awareness not just in the Tamworth area, but further afield.

“My hope for Tamworth is that local people and Tamworth Borough Council fully capitalise on the importance of this story to the town.

“It is such a positive thing that the courage of a Tamworth man helped to shorten WW2 and was so influential in winning our freedom. Who knows maybe this is something I can help with in the future.”

  • Phil can be contacted on philshanahan@hotmail.co.uk
  • Comments

    Sam Holliday (18/05/2009 09:53:33)
    I had the honour – for that is what it was – to work with Phil Shanahan for many years at Tamworth and a better journlaist and a nicer guy you could not wish to meet.
    Many of us in the profession hope we can make a difference in some way – and Phil certainly did. His work to make Colin Grazier’s World War Two-shortening exploits a national story are a shining example of the sort of commitment, dedication and sense of purpose that all journalists should aspire to.
    Beyond that he was (and is) a fantastic man and I feel privileged to call him my friend.
    I fully respect Phil’s decision to move on and try soemthing new and he leaves with the respect of all his peers and in the sure and certain knowledge that Tamworth, the Tamworth Herald and the memory of Colin Grazier are forever in his debtt.
    Thanks for the hard work, the friendship and the laughs Phil and good luck in the next venture.
    Oh and well done to Stoke City for staying up!!!!!
    Sam H, Bath

    All Subbed Out (18/05/2009 13:31:34)
    Phil says he was “offered a wider role” upon restructuring. We can all guest what that actually means without reading between any lines – more work, more responsibility, same or less pay. Yet another talented, knowledgeable person squeezed out of the business by a company that just wants a minimal number of writers and sausage-factory subbing capacity to fill papers and websites with any old stuff as cheaply as possible.

    the red postman (18/05/2009 16:31:40)
    Wouldn’t disagree with either of the above posts! I am almost sure that Phil took over my job when I left the Herald in 1990 so I didn’t actually ever work with him, but I have had a number of dealings with him over the years and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer guy. He’s done wonders for Tamworth with his work on the Colin Grazier story, something for which he will always be remembered. It’s a shame to see the beancounters forcing out another excellent journalist. Best of luck, Phil, in whatever you do. I have your email address and I will be in touch.

    Natalie Missenden (18/05/2009 17:56:21)
    I worked with Phil for many years until I too because a victim of the Northcliffe ‘restructuring’. I echo the sentiments of all the other posters here. Phil is one of the best, most committed journalists I ever had the honour of working with, as well as being a great bloke. To see someone of his huge talent leaving the profession is a sad indictment of the way the industry is going. Good luck for the future, Phil – you deserve it.

    Nick Hudson (19/05/2009 03:50:53)
    They say ‘Nice Guys Don’t Win Prizes’, well Phil Shanahan is a shining example of one who did. The Tamworth Herald and honest-to-goodness local journalism is the poorer for your departure. All the best in the future. See you at the Enigma screening during the Heart of England International Film Festival week. You’re The Real Tamworth Herald Hero.

    Martin Thoolen (09/09/2009 16:33:10)
    Phil’s just a great journalist as well as a fine person and his step shows his integrity.
    Martin Thoolen