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Former reporter loses battle with brain tumour

A former south-east local press reporter who once played in a football match he was meant to be covering has died aged just 53.

Keith Southey, left, joined the Dover Express in 1973 and spent 14 years there where he rose to the ranks of deputy chief reporter.

No slouch on the football field, Keith even found himself playing in and reporting on a Dover Reserves game during his early career with the paper.

“With my interest in sport, I was given Dover Reserves to cut my teeth and the first game I was given they were a player short. A deal was done whereby I could play and report on games,” he said.

But it was in his final year with the Northcliffe weekly that he covered the biggest story of his newspaper career.

Keith travelled over to Belgian port of Zeebrugge to report on the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise passenger ferry.

The tragedy, which took the lives of 193 people, had a profound effect on Keith.

“Even some hard-nosed journalists need time to grieve and I am not ashamed to admit I broke down on the ferry home,” he told the Express last year when the paper marked its 150th anniversary.

“It’s not often in local newspapers that the opportunity to cover a major international story comes along.

“It felt a terrible intrusion, but the journalist’s task is to bring the human interest stories to the readers, and you have to keep your focus.”

After leaving the Express he worked in public relations for the Port of Dover for 22 years.

Keith was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year and was being cared for in a nursing in home in Temple Ewell. The married father-of-two died on Tuesday in a hospital in Ashford.

Dover Express editor Simon Finlay said: “I always got the impression Keith was extremely proud of his connections to the Dover Express and was always keen to keep up that relationship.

“He was quite a quick-witted and humorous chap as well as an immensely likeable fellow.”

  • You can leave your memories of Keith at Lasting Tribute.