AddThis SmartLayers

Review of 2012: Those we have lost

Each year has its goodbyes and the last 12 months have again seen the journalistic profession bid farewell to some of its most distinguished figures, including a number of former editors.

As 2012 draws to a close, we continue our ‘Review of the Year’ series with a selection of obituaries which have featured on HoldtheFrontPage over the past 12 months, along with some of the heartfelt tributes that have been paid by friends and colleagues.

Neil Aitchison

Former editor of Uttoxeter Advertiser who moved into television and PR, who died at 44 after cancer battle

“The past few months brought the sorts of challenges that nobody should face. Neil’s nurses and doctors told him how much respect and admiration they had for him because of the way he met those challenges head on, got himself moving and proved their predictions wrong.” – wife Linda.

Barry Askew

Former editor at Matlock Mercury, Lancashire Evening Post and News of the World

“Barry was well-liked by his editorial team because he trusted them and let them get on with the job and when he got the sniff of a big story he really went for it, all guns blazing.” – Evening Post features editor Peter Richardson.

Graham Beesley

Former Northcliffe training advisor who died from carbon monoxide poisoning

“He was always helpful and always keen to take an interest in every side of the business. When I spoke to him just a couple of months ago, he was enjoying his early retirement and looking forward to life in the future.” – Mark Price, Grimsby and Scunthorpe Media Group managing director.

David Bruce

Former crime reporter at Yorkshire Evening Post

“Dave was the reporter admired by many reporters, relied upon by news editors and trusted by readers. He was always a joker and always up for a laugh – but he could also always see a story where others could not.” – Bruce Smith, another former YEP crime reporter.

Alastair Clark

Chief sub-editor who worked at The Scotsman for more than 50 years

“He was also a master of headline writing, especially during what he called ‘the best time of my journalistic life’ when in charge of the Opinion pages – columnists and editorials – of The Scotsman in the latter stages of his career.” – former colleague Fordyce Maxwell

Ken Draper

Chief editorial assistant at Plymouth’s The Herald, who died at 61

“He was very professional and took pride in his work at the paper which earned him much respect among his colleagues and our readers. We shall all miss Ken.” – Herald editor Ian Wood

Chris East

Former editor at Bucks Advertiser, Bucks Herald and Thame Gazette who was found dead at home

“He was a newspaper man through and through, he was passionate about accuracy and making sure the story was right and we were doing the right community news.” – former Bucks Herald editor David Summers.

Jackie Forster

Former women’s editor at the Blackpool Gazette

“She knew how to start and end an article, just as she knew when to advise her daughter the ‘price of independence was loneliness’, and showed us all how to live – and leave – life gracefully and with great dignity.” – former colleague Jacqui Morley.

Danny Fullbrook

Former Hull Daily Mail journalist who became the Daily Star’s chief football writer and died of cancer at 40

“When I say the world’s a quieter place today, it’s meant with real affection. That was Danny, absolutely full of life and it’s a tragedy we’ll never be in his company again because he was one of the warmest, funniest, noisiest blokes it’s been my privilege to call a friend.” – close friend Shaun Custis, of The Sun.

Paul Gray

Former chief sub editor of the Hartlepool Mail who died aged 44 after a long battle with alcoholism

“Grayzie was a key member of a loveable bunch of rogues that I had to try to control. He contributed to making every day fun. He was generous in spirit and generous in deed.” – former Hartlepool Mail editor Harry Blackwood.

Colin Greenhill

Sports sub-editor at Edinburgh Evening News who died at 57

“Colin was a great character to have in the office. He was funny, witty and a fine sub-editor whose attention to detail was unrivalled.” – Mark Atkinson, deputy sports editor at the Evening News.

Ted Griffiths

Former editor who led The Brecon & Radnor Express for 35 years

“I had the privilege of working with him for 29 wonderfully happy years when he directed the paper with a quiet calm and good humour. He was a skillful reporter and astute editor. The news room was never happier than when he was around.” – former Brecon & Radnor Express reporter Arwyn Evans.

Julie Harding

Former chief reporter at Bristol Evening Post, who lost cancer battle at 51

“She was an excellent journalist who cared passionately about the people and the issues she wrote about. She also had the rare gift of being able to connect with the young people who worked with her, offering them advice and encouragement.” – Post editor Mike Norton.

Robin Haworth

Freelance photographer who died at 49

“Robin was a skilled photographer who worked with distinction on many of our newspaper titles. Above all Robin will be remembered for his boundless enthusiasm and infectious good humour which lifted the spirits of all around him.” – Neil Johnson, Lancashire Telegraph picture editor.

Bill Hill

Former Paisley Daily Express and Scotsman journalist who went on to work alongside Bill Gates at Microsoft

“Bill was smart. Really smart. He won a scholarship to Glasgow’s Alan Glen’s school, where he excelled academically. But he was also a rebel, and rejected the conventional academic route through his university years at Heriot-Watt’s, to carve out a niche for himself as a journalist.” – former colleague Peter May.

Sheila Holmes

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Weekly News reporter who was among the first journalists to successfully use Reynolds defence

“Sheila’s knowledge of the industry and calm approach proved invaluable to the scores of budding reporters who she guided in their first forays into journalism.” – Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Stuart Robinson.

Brian Jones

Former editor at Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle

“He was a newspaper production man through and through, and was unhappy in his role as spokesman for South West Electricity. He was certainly a stand-out candidate for the post of editor of the Evening Post when Eric Price retired.” – retired journalist John Hudson, who worked the Western Daily Press.

Ian Laws

Digital editor at the Sunderland Echo who died at the age of 41 after collapsing at his home

“He was a popular member of staff with a wicked sense of humour. He would sit there with a wry smile on his face and then would come out with a one-liner. He was a talented writer covering boxing and other sport. He was also a big music fan and knew the local music scene well.” – editor Rob Lawson.

Sharon McCord

Former journalist at Glasgow’s The Herald who died of cancer at the age of 45

“Before long, every media outlet was clamouring for a young, opinionated female contributor. Sharon had opinions in spades; and, no doubt, opinions about spades. She rolled high for more than a decade, writing on everything from literature to interiors to nutrition.” – Allan Brown.

Phil Mackie

Former deputy editor and associate editor at the Edinburgh Evening News, who became a Royal press advisor

“In Phil Mackie’s passing, journalism has lost an able, colourful character, and one of the last of a diminishing band who lived their journalism to the hilt when it was at its most exciting.” – Ian Nimmo, Phil’s editor at the Evening News.

Sue Mason

Journalist at Hull Daily Mail who lost cancer battle at age of 52

“She was unassuming and I never heard her complain about anything. What I realised about Sue, because of her profession in her writing, is she was prolific. She wrote so many articles and I wondered how she came up with fresh ideas all the time. From a work point of view, it was admirable.” – Friend and photographer Lee Karen Stow.

Jim O’Brien

Former business journalist at the Birmingham Post

“Jim had a great work ethic and a distinguished career. He had a Northern sense of humour, which was as thick as gravy. He had a wonderful shorthand note and was a stickler for accuracy.” – former Birmingham Post business editor John Duckers.

Andy Parker

Former deputy editor at Burton Mail who died of cancer at 58

“Andy started off as my mentor and soon became a great friend. So many reporters learned so much from him and he truly was a newsroom legend.” – Jason Davies, the Mail’s former news editor and a close friend.

Jonny Saunders

Reporter at the Hemel Hempstead Gazette who lost cancer battle at 24

“Jonny was a real pleasure to have in the newsroom, he was always upbeat and joking and making tea when things got hectic. As a reporter he was considerate, sensitive and charming – as indeed he was in life.” – Gazette editor Adam Hollier.

Dennis Signy

Former group editor at Hendon Times series

“He was one of the few local newspaper journalists to whom the description ‘legendary’ truly applies. In fact, as he would have been the first to agree, the phrase ‘a legend in his own lunchtime’ could have been coined for him.” – friend and former colleague Charlie Harris.

Neville Stack

Former editor-in-chief at the Leicester Mercury

“He was a great editor and has inspired many journalists internationally who, like me, will remember him as a passionate and committed editor with a warm and, at times, paternalistic attitude.” – Ather Mirza, director of press at the University of Leicester.

Dudley Stephens

Former editor of the Pontypridd & Llantrisant Observer and Rhondda Leader

“He was a delightful man who I am proud to have known as a friend. He was a true newspaperman who would fight tooth and nail for any injustice.” – close friend and former colleague Dave Edwards.

Constantine Tofalos

Former photographer at The Bolton News and Manchester Evening News who died of Multiple Sclerosis at 42

“Friends and family visited Deno regularly and we will always remember the smile he gave us when we walked in the room. He was a remarkable person and he really will be missed.” – dad Chris.

Paul Watson

Hartlepool Mail head of news who died of heart attack at 50

“Paul was the reassuring nod, the uplifting chat, the calming hand. I was thrilled when Paul came to work alongside us at the Mail. Newsrooms can be stressful environments – but he was the one who always put things into perspective.” – Gavin Foster, the Mail’s deputy editor.

Richard Wooldridge

Former editor of The Press in York who died of a heart attack while on holiday

“He was easily the best editor I ever worked with, along with David Nicholson. He was a very inspirational leader and was a source of huge encouragement to me.” – Robert Beaumont, friend and former chief features editor of The Press.

Brian Woolnough

Former regional press journalist turned Daily Star chief sports writer

“He treated everyone he met, from rookie reporter to football superstar, the same. You knew exactly what you would get from Brian: Never moody, always bright, cheerful and ready to tackle his workload – no matter how heavy.” – David Woods, Daily Star.