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Western daily editor bows out after 40-year career

A long-serving regional editor is looking forward to living at home seven days a week after his decision to bow out ahead of major changes to his title.

Andy Wright’s decision to retire as editor of the Western Daily Press brings to an end a 40-year career in regional newspapers.

As reported yesterday, the Daily Press’s content and production operations are to be merged with fellow Northcliffe daily the Western Morning News under editor-in-chief Alan Qualtrough.

Andy, 59, has edited the Bristol-based title since 2005 and also previously edited his hometown paper the Shropshire Star, where he still has his home.

He told HTFP: “What I won’t miss is the drive to work every Monday and the drive back on a Friday and the big bonus is that I’ll be able to live at home again seven days a week.

“It will be strange to live again as a married couple after 12 years of living as a single man Monday to Friday, first in Derby and then at Bristol.”

Andy’s wife Maggie runs a delicatessen and holiday lettings firm in Ludlow, Shropshire – a business with which Andy now plans to get more involved.

He said: “The bonus for my wife is that she gets back a man who now knows how to cook for himself so she can look forward to returning from work at the deli to find a meal on the table for her.”

Andy began his career in July 1970 as a junior reporter at the Bridgnorth Journal in Shropshire, moving to the Telford-based Star three years later.

Rising through the ranks to become assistant news editor, then news editor, then deputy editor and finally editor, he was to remain with the paper for 25 years, barring a six-month secondment to the Press Association in the early 1990s.

Among the most memorable stories he covered at the time was the so-called ‘Black Panther’ murder case involving notorious killer Donald Neilson.

Andy worked on the case from the day heiress Lesley Whittle was kidnapped in January 1975, to the day Neilson was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder, and that of three sub-postmasters, at Oxford Crown Court in July 1976.

Recalls Andy: “I had the privilege of working with Tony Bishop, a superb court and crime reporter with the Express and Star.

“Copy was filed for both the Shropshire Star and its sister title the Express and Star every 30 minutes during the course of the day and then a wrap-up lead for the early editions at close of play. We had a telephone with a padlock on the dial in a portacabin on the forecourt of Oxford Prison.”

He eventually left the Star in 1998 after four years as editor and became news editor of the Derby Evening Telegraph later the same year.

After seven years in Derby, he moved to Bristol as editor of the WDP, taking over from Terry Manners in a previous Northcliffe shake-up.

Said Andy: “Being a journalist has been a great privilege. I’ve been to No 10 with three Prime Ministers, met several members of the Royal Family and some big names in the entertainment and sporting world.

“I’ve covered some major events, unfortunately many of them deaths, Diana, the QueenMmum, Brian Clough to name but three but perhaps the person that will stand out for me out of all of them was meeting Harry Patch, the last World War One soldier to die.

“At the suggestion of one of my reporters who knew him well I commissioned a life-sized portrait of him three years before his death and I will never forget his face when we unveiled it, nor the afternoon we spent in his company.

“I really think that after 40 years it’s about the right time to retire. I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it and that’s how I’d like to remember it. I’ve had a very talented team of journalists around me at all the places I’ve worked and I’m certainly going to miss them.”


James Allen (09/03/2010 11:10:45)
Wrighty- it’s about time. Just to say best wishes on your retirement and commiserations to Maggie because now you’ll be getting under her feet.

All Subbed Out (09/03/2010 12:35:11)
Hopefully the incorrect spelling and possibly inappropriate use of ‘portacabin’ (sic) is not indicative of the subbing standards Mr Wright is leaving behind in the new Plymouth (or is it Bristol?) hub.

Alan Rawlinson (09/03/2010 14:30:52)
Well deserved, Andy. Have a great “retirement”, though I can’t believe you won’t keep busy…

Former WDP worker (10/03/2010 10:21:44)
That’s nice for him.

Eminem (10/03/2010 15:02:58)
Mmmmm… QueenMmummmmmm

IanE (11/03/2010 09:26:44)
Andy is one of the truly nice guys in the business. When he left the Shropshire Star everyone on the editorial floor stood and applauded him out – something that had never happened before nor since, and an indication of his popularity and the respect in which he was held.

Mike Hayward (15/03/2010 17:36:07)
Seems a long time since Andy was driving an A35 van on two wheels on the way to the Bridgnorth Journal! Good luck Andy