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Review of 2013: Those we have lost

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

As 2013 comes to an end, we conclude 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 tributes that have been paid to them by friends and colleagues.

John Adams

Former news editor at Comet series of newspapers in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire who lose battle with cancer months after retiring.

“His loss is felt by all in the media family but I have lost a great colleague and friend. Even now I want to shout out his name and ask the spelling of a road name and in which town or village it is situated. John would know, he always did and he was never wrong.” – Comet editor Darren Isted.

John Algar

Former editor of Leamington Courier and its now-defunct sister daily the Leamington Morning News.

“Many aspiring journalists, like me, learned the basics of the craft under his skilled tutelage and benefited from his knowledge and experience and, when needed, the necessary edge of steel he brought to the role of editor and mentor.” – Martin Lawson, the editor who replaced John.

John Bennett

Former Tamworth Herald editor, who worked at the title for more than 30 years.

“There are some people whose name is synonymous with the Herald, because of the impact they made on the paper and Tamworth itself during their time in our newsroom. John was one of those people.” – Herald editor Gary Phelps.

Robert Beers

Course leader in MA International Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, who fell to his death from a hotel in Istanbul.

“The loss of the breadth and range Robert’s knowledge and experience brought to teaching is enormous but it’s the understated, generous and human way that he shared that with students and colleagues that will be most missed.” – Andy Dickinson, senior lecturer in journalism.

Malcolm Brodie

Former sports editor who worked for Belfast Telegraph for nearly 50 years.

“He never lost the energy to do his job and he obviously enjoyed doing it and had enthusiasm about it. It’s very hard to retain enthusiasm for your job right up to your 80s.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

Lex Brown

Former chief reporter at the Irvine Herald who was found dead at 63, months after retiring.

“He was community-minded at heart, a great local journalist. He had a sharp mind and the best news sense of anyone I have ever known. He very much believed that journalists were born, they weren’t taught. He was a really brilliant teacher and a legend to all of us.” – Herald news editor Lorraine Howard.

Neal Butterworth

Former Bournemouth Echo editor who lost cancer battle at 55

“He was such a talented lad but he never made a big deal about anything. I am sure we don’t know half of all the things he did. I do know that he was held in huge esteem by so many people and did a lot of amazing things in the community. We have always been incredibly proud of him.” – Neal’s brother Mark.

Mel Cook

Editor at Nottingham Post editor who lost cancer battle at 51.

“Mel was one of life’s good guys – funny, friendly, hard- working, compassionate and a great editor. Even through his fight with this most cruel of illnesses Mel remained positive and pragmatic.” – Nottingham Post publisher Steve Hollingsworth.

Geoff Cottrell

Former editor of four weekly newspapers in Worcestershire, the AdNews, Berrow’s Worcester Journal, the Malvern Gazette and Ledbury Reporter.

“He wasn’t easily influenced by outside pressures and was completely committed to the newspapers he was editing and worked unstintingly on behalf of his readers, to present a comprehensive news service.” – David Griffin, Geoff’s former group managing editor in Worcestershire.

Mike Delaney

Former chief reporter and deputy editor at Glenrothes Gazette who died at 52, weeks after leaving his job.

“Mike was the very heart and soul of the Gazette office –  a great reporter and a hugely popular and valued colleague to all who joined the paper.” – Allan Crow, Central Fife editor for the Fife Free Press Group.

Chris Finn

Leicester Mercury’s chief sports writer, who died suddenly at 56.

“Everyone at the Mercury has been devastated by Chris’ death and the sadness and shock among his colleagues has been immense. It would be a cliché to say he is sorely missed, but I think Chris would enjoy the cliché.” – Mercury editor Richard Bettsworth.

Tony Flanagan

Former Birmingham Mail and Post photographer who went freelance, who lost battle with cancer at 60.

“I will always remember Tony as a dynamic photographer – full of charm, confidence, and a true professional who created so many award-winning images. He was a photographic magician.”Birmingham Press Club vice-chairman Fred Bromwich.

John Fletcher

Former reporter at Exeter’s Express and Echo, who died of a suspected heart attack in Budapest.

“John was a journalist of the old school, charming, funny, down-to-earth, always cheerful and ready with a joke, even in the toughest circumstances, and relentless in pursuit of a good story.” – Echo production editor Ed Oldfield.

David Green

Former West Briton reporter who died at 62 just months after retiring.

“He was a fantastic journalist of the old school, and we always valued his knowledge, great journalistic instincts and the humour he brought, as well as his good-natured and healthy cynicism.” – Editor Richard Best.

Walter Greenwood

Journalism training expert who co-edited McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists

“Even as his health worsened, his appetite for news and his desire to keep in touch with changes in the law never waned. He followed the careers of every trainee who passed through his hands and had a phenomenal memory that allowed him to recall every name, every face and every law exam result going back nearly 50 years.” – Tony Johnston, head of Press Association Training.

Brian Hitchen

Former Daily Star and Sunday Express editor who began career at Oldham Chronicle, who died along with his wife in a road accident in Spain.

“There are so many people on Fleet Street and in many other walks of life who owe so much to him. He was a brilliant journalist and an absolutely fantastic man.” – Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow.

Chris Horan

Former assistant news editor and features editor at Scunthorpe Telegraph who died after a long illness at 56.

“I always remember Chris for his painstaking attention to detail in everything he wrote. Although he was not born in Scunthorpe, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the town’s history.” – former colleague Malcolm Dixon.

David Johnstone

Former editor at Berwickshire News, who worked for the title for 46 years

“David was an excellent journalist, fair, accurate, dependable and totally committed to the Berwickshire News. He was proud of the team of reporters and photographers he led.” – Tony Lamgmack, who edited the Berwick Advertiser.

Dave Lawley

Former deputy chief reporter who worked at Express & Star for 30 years before becoming a press officer for Sandwell Council. He died at 61.

“Dave was a respected old school journalist, a family man and a good friend to my husband Roger and I for many years. He reported on many of the big stories over the years but also championed the local area where he grew up. He was always a delight to deal with.” – Sandwell Mayor Linda Horton.

Tony Martin

Night editor at Liverpool Echo, who died suddenly at 61.

“Tony Martin was the heart and soul of the Echo. Time after time he’d save the paper and me by spotting an error or pointing out a flaw in a plan. As a true Liverpudlian and a reader at heart, he knew better than anyone what readers expected from their local paper.” – Echo editor Alastair Machray.

Kevin Nash

Former sports editor at Bournemouth Echo, who died at 57.

“It was great dealing with him – he was just a gentleman. He will be greatly missed by everyone here.” – AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.

Noel Perry

Former reporter who spent nearly 40 years at West Briton, who lost cancer battle at 57, just months after retiring.

“Those who met Noel will have known he was a funny, clever man who sometimes enjoyed playing the curmudgeon, but in reality had kindness and compassion running all the way through him.” –  West Briton editor Richard Best.

Darren Powell

Chief sub at The Citizen in Gloucester, who died on 42nd birthday after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

“Everyone has been shocked by Darren’s death. He was a fantastic journalist who cared passionately about The Citizen. He was such a personality in the newsroom and a good friend to many of us.” – Jenny Eastwood – Citizen editor.

Eric Price

Editor of Western Daily Press from 1960 to 1980, who became editor of Bristol Evening Post

“For editors advanced in their careers, Eric will be remembered with great respect and fondness for his skills as an editor, great humour and contempt for red tape. He had a great competitive spirt and was always wonderful company.” – Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors.

Anne Simpson

Columnist at The Herald in Glasgow, who worked for the title for nearly 40 years until losing her battle with cancer.

“Anne Simpson (Annie to her many friends, colleagues and relatives) was an exceptional journalist whose work, always finessed, always polished and true, adorned this newspaper for almost 40 years. She was a careful, even fastidious, writer, though she could send copy against the clock with the best of them.” – former Herald editor Harry Reid.

Ava Soe

Former news editor at Middleton Guardian, who lost cancer battle at 59

“Ava joined the (Rochdale) Observer after winning a Guardian Bursary and her talent was immediately spotted. She was the fairest person I knew and had a strong sense of integrity that she put into use daily.” – Middleton & North Manchester Guardian editor Gerry Sammon.

Graeme Smith

Content editor for the Herald & Times Group’s s1 series of websites, who died of a brain tumour at 44

“He was a gifted writer with a sharp dry wit, a talent he brought to bear most poignantly in the blog detailing his life after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He will be remembered for many reasons but perhaps none more so than the remarkable fortitude and optimism he showed throughout that period, and he will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.” – s1 managing director Mark Smith.

John Stone

Leicester Mercury’s first business editor, who held role for 25 years

“He would charm his way past the most protective and obstructive of personal secretaries to reach the chairman or managing director and nail the story. He always aimed to be first with the news.” – Louisa Bayley, who succeeded John as business editor.

Derek Tempero

Former Andover Advertiser editor who worked at paper for 48 years

“He was a very influential figure in the area and never lost his enthusiasm for Andover or the newspaper. He was even reading the Advertiser on his 90th birthday and used to keep his own archives at his home.” – Steve Dancey, head of editorial at Andover Advertiser.

Mark Turnbull

Blind journalist who worked at The Northern Echo and Darlington and Stockton Times before becoming a radio personality and was also a former president of the National Union of Journalists. He died at 50.

“Mark was a compelling personality who swept up all before him, either as a strong member of our national executive council, or socially when he was wickedly indiscrete with his trademark gin and tonic in hand.” – NUJ Northern organiser Chris Morley.

John Tulloch

Founder and former head of journalism school at the University of Lincoln

“He was a great support to all of his deans of faculty, and his advice was always calm, considered and helpful. His loyalty to the university was undimmed by his healthy suspicion of major organisations, and we cherished his ethical approach which put students at the heart of his considerations.” – David Sleight, dean of public engagement and an associate professor of media at the university.

David Williams

Former editor at South East London Mercury, the Southend Evening Echo, the Argus in Brighton and the Bury Free Press, who was also a former president of the Guild of Editors.

“David was a quietly spoken but tough editor. Driven by powerful principles concerning the freedom of the press and practical common sense, he led the Guild of Editors with style, good humour and under-stated strength of purpose and character.” – Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors.

Colin Webb

Former editor of the Cambridge News, who became editor of the Press Association.

“Webb, a kindly and innovative man left an indelible mark on the Press Association, not least because of his initiative in dispersing of important departments, such as sport, to the north of England. He will be remembered for his determination to ensure that the Press Association kept abreast of and ahead of the rest of Fleet Street and provided its customers with the finest and fastest news service possible.” – former PA political editor Chris Moncrieff.


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