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Yorkshire newspaper’s first female editor dies

Pat Swift pictured with a photograph of her daughter Vikki and family

The first female editor of a local newspaper in West Yorkshire has died following a long illness.

Pat Swift, former editor of the Todmorden News and its sister title the Hebden Bridge Times, died earlier this month. She was in her 60s.

Pat edited the newspapers for almost a decade but had worked as a journalist on both titles for many years before that.

During a long career she worked on a number of Yorkshire and Lancashire titles including the Dewsbury Reporter and the Accrington Observer. In 1965 she joined the Halifax Courier where her husband Ian was a photographer.

She took a break in 1969 to bring up her children Vikki and Richard and in the early 70s started working part-time on the Brighouse Echo.

She then returned part-time to the Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times as a reporter and feature writer in 1976 when Roy Greenwood was editor and later worked full-time under editor Jim Dumsday and then John Wheatcroft.

In 1987 she was the first woman to become editor of the titles, before retiring in 1995.

Head of content at the papers , John Greenwood, who worked under Pat as her deputy for six-and-a-half-years during the 80s, said: “She was a stickler for accuracy, very thorough, one of the old school journalists in that we covered parish councils as much as we could.

“She was ideally suited to local weekly journalism and smaller news items were as important as major ones.”

Among her achievements as editor was setting up Christmas toy appeals in both towns. Todmorden’s ran through the 1990s and the Hebden Bridge is still going today.

Added John: “The appeals helped brighten the Christmas of families who would otherwise have struggled to give their children gifts.”

Pat also set up awards for services to sports in Todmorden.