A local press writer with a strong claim to have been the longest-serving working journalist in Britain has died at the age of 76.
Mark Gale had been a journalist on the Haywards Heath-based Mid Sussex Times for no fewer than 60 years.
He loved his job as the paper’s music and theatre critic so much he continued to work for nothing following his retirement, coming into the office for two days a week.
The Theatre Royal Brighton and Glyndebourne Opera House have been among the organisations that have paid tribute to him this week following his death on Sunday.
Starting out in journalism as a teenager after working as a projectionist and theatre assistant, Mr Gale won a deserved reputation for the high quality of his work.
Mid-Sussex Times colleague Phil Dennett said: “His writing should have earned him a job on the nationals but he was not ambitious and loved his job here so much he never moved on. He still came in two days a week after retirement without pay to file copy because he loved writing.
“He was saddened at the decline of the newspaper industry and the effects of the recession and one of the last things he said to me was that he was glad he worked in newspapers when they were at their best.
“He was indeed the best as far as we were concerned, both as a writer and human being. It’s hard to imagine local papers having an arts writer of such a high standard for so long in the modern era.”
Although known to colleagues as a kind and modest journalist Mr Gale was not afraid to take local show producers to task if he felt their work was poor quality for paying customers.
Said Phil: “His honesty led to him being declared unwelcome on a few occasions but he always managed to mend the fences because of his sheer knowledge and the quality of his writing.”
Mr Gale had previously worked for the paper as a news reporter and later chief reporter, covering courts and inquests, and also wrote about Brighton and Hove Albion football club.
He died peacefully at his Haywards Heath home after suffering from failing health for the past year.
davy gravy (19/01/2010 12:18:19)
“Sheer knowledge”….”quality of his writing”…and the Mid Sussex Times were happy to have him work for them without pay.
That’s pretty shameful – surely a stringer fee should have been paid.
Jon Buss (19/01/2010 12:44:46)
Mark was already at the top of his game by the time I joined the Middy as a 16-year-old in the late 60s.
He was a superb writer, like me a massive Brighton and Hove Albion fan, and a man with a fantastic sense of humour.
Among the many things I remamber about Mark:
1. He would type with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, not hunched over the machine like the rest of us, but sitting back in a relaxed pose. Finger for the letters, thumb for the space bar. This was a breath of fresh air for me – I’d been forced to learn to touch type.
2. I remember some excellent social occasions at his home in Hurstpierpoint, with Mark creating new and lethal cocktails. He’d be shaking them up and he’d look to the heavens and say: “I think I’ll call this one….” before coming-up with a typically witty title.
Dulmadoba (19/01/2010 13:07:55)
So sorry to hear this. I was only at the Middy for a brief period of work experience but I have never forgotten his kind, friendly nature nor his willingness to teach me the trade.
mellow26 (20/01/2010 15:04:08)
Davy gravy…..The staff at the Mid Sussex Times were not happy for Mark to work for nothing but obviously JP were.