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District man recalls what the Butler saw

A veteran district reporter who spent 35 years covering the same North Wales beat has finally hung up his notebook.

Carl Butler, left, began his career in journalism with the Chester Chronicle series back in 1967.

After a brief spell on the Liverpool Echo, he moved to the Daily Post in 1975 as district man for the North-East Wales patch – and stayed in the same role for the next three and a half decades.

Friends and colleagues from across the North Wales media, including rival papers and broadcasters, recently gathered for a farewell bash at which he was presented with a gift of National Trust membership.

Looking back on it all, Carl said: “It was stressful, at times manic, infuriating, rewarding, exhilarating, but never dull.

“Back then journalists had to complete three and a half years’ indentures. They were also the days when we were expected to collect the names of mourners at funerals and invest in a tuxedo to cover formal dinners.”

One story dominated Carl’s stay in North Wales – the demise of tens of thousands of jobs in the steel, coal and textile industries and the subsequent regeneration of the area through new industries such as the Toyota engine plant on Deeside.

On one occcasion, after crisis talks between unions and management at British Steel’s London HQ, Carl ended up interviewing the union leaders in the back of a taxi on a late-night dash to Euston station and filing the splash from a station phone box.

“It was a far cry from today’s technology with reporters using mobile phones to transmit pictures and video as well as sending copy,” recalls Carl.

“I remember one district office where we had no electricity and I had to work by shining the car headlights on the phone box so that I could get the story over.

Ex-Daily Post staffer Elwyn Roberts, who now runs Dee News Service in Mold, has worked alongside Carl throughout those 35 years.

He said: “It really is not the same without him on the patch. This is the end of an era – a sad loss to quality journalism in Wales.”

Local BBC man John Shone described Carl as a “a consummate professional, the epitome of a dedicated district man”.

“You could always rely on Carl on to help you out in any situation. We’ve covered countless stories together down the years and his departure from the Post marks the end of a long line of reporters, who knew their patch inside out, upside down, and who’ve given unstinting service to the paper,” he said.

Veteran North Wales freelance Derek Bellis added: “‘What the Butler Saw’ was North Wales life in three decades, which he has written about with authority, accuracy and skill.

“Carl is one of the old school and he will be sorely missed by the Daily Post. We wish him luck in a new life away from the unrelenting calls on his mobile.”


Subbed Out (22/02/2010 09:32:29)
I always thought the North Wales edition of the Daily Post was better than the main Liverpool edition and its greater circulation bore this out. I remember Carl’s byline a lot when I worked in that neck of the woods, along with a reporter called David Jones (What happened to him ?)

Keith Ely (22/02/2010 16:14:49)
I was privileged to work with Carl for many years at the Daily Post. He was one of the best – dedicated, thorough and 100% reliable. Well done Carl! Keith Ely, Medford, Oregon.

Graham Lees (23/02/2010 15:01:20)
By the eck, I worked with Butler long, long ago at the Chester Chronicle, manual Remingtons and all. Happy days! Now look where I am: Bangkok.

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  • October 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Carl was fine, fine journlist who helped me get my first job on the DP. He was the epitome of a reporter, who could turn his hand to light picture stories and then cover a murder investigation in the same day. As night editor of the Post it was always reassuring to know Carl was on a story as he would never let you down.

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