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Stroke claims former North West newspaper editor

A journalist whose career spanned 60 years on newspapers in a Merseyside town has died at the age of 86.

William ‘Bert’ Traverse was editor of the St Helens Reporter in the 80s when the Johnston Press title was owned by the Gentry family. He had previously worked on the St Helens Gazette and the St Helens Newspaper.

He died at Whiston Hospital on Sunday 1 April after a stroke.

Denis Whittle, a friend of William’s and  former sports writer at the rival St Helens Star, described him as a ‘veteran wordsmith’ who wrote under the nom-de-plume ‘Boffin’ when covering the local Saints Rugby League team.

Said Denis: “With pen in hand, Bert’s specialities were Saints, where he enjoyed first name terms with the players such as captain Jimmy Stott.

“Traverse was also in the Wembley press box when the Knowsley Road squad lifted the Challenge Cup for the first time in defeating Halifax in 1956.

“Bert’s ‘You May Like To Know’ feature was a riveting read, in particular for more mature Reporter devotees in that it embraced the complete spectrum of town affairs.”

William leaves his wife Felicia, son John, daughter-in-law Ruth and grandson Jamie.

A funeral service will be held at St. Ann’s Church, Rainhill, Merseyside, on Friday 13 April at 11am.




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  • April 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Bert was my first editor at the Prescot and Huyton Reporter and it was a baptism of fire. On my first day he gave me a night job and hauled me over the coals for putting ‘a bouquet of flowers’ in a report -“If it’s a bouquet, or course it is of flowers!” Never forgot the lesson – or Bert. He was totally committed to local newspapers. A one-off.

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  • April 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I think I’m right in saying that Bert was responsible for the splash headline The Prestidigitators, right across the broadsheet page! I got to work with him briefly when he left the Reporter and wrote for the St Helens Leader – he was a real gent.

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  • April 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Gill (Collins I’m guessing?)- yes you’re right re The Prestidigitators. It caused uproar in the newsroom as none of us knew what it meant and weren’t sure it was appropriate for a council budget-blanacing story! A certain male reporter even sneaked into the stone to physically remove his stuck-on byline before printing, but Bert found out, went ballistic and restored the byline with an added “chief reporter” tag!
    Bert inspired and intimidated me in equal measure but I learned a lot from him and he presided over what was a proper, traditional newspaper that was the genuine pulse of the local community. In the days when around a third of the St Helens population bought it (and passed it round the rest of the family) what The Reporter said really counted.

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