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Binman turned news editor bows out after 44 years at weekly

A weekly news editor who became a journalist after his dad “pestered” him to apply for a job has stepped down after 44 years at his paper.

Brian Gomm had been working as a binman for Tyldesley Council until joining the Leigh Journal in August 1970.

He began his career in journalism on a five-year apprenticeship at the Journal’s Tyldesley offices and remained with the paper and its sister titles ever since.

The 62-year-old, described by his editor as the face of the paper, finally bowed out of the Newsquest-owned title on Friday.

Brian pictured with his dog Buster

Recalled Brian:  “My dad, a manual worker all his life who had his own coal round at the age of 14, wanted a better life for me and when an ad for a junior journalist appeared in the Journal, they pestered me into applying for it.

“I was comfortable on the bin round and they were worried I might stay there.

“I had always enjoyed writing, so I thought it was worth a go and the wage when fully qualified in those days meant you were earning as much as a teacher or a policeman.

“I would like to thank all those people who have been loyal friends and made my life at the Journal easier than it might otherwise have been. I’ve had some great colleagues and met remarkable people whose stories have made the Journal what it is.

Group editor Nicola Priest added:  “Brian has been the face of the Leigh Journal for many years and everyone in the area knows him and respects him. He’s a lovely guy and a real character, certainly someone who can keep you entertained with some amazing stories.

“His dedication to the Journal has been phenomenal and we will all miss him and wish him a happy and relaxing retirement.”

Brian, who lives in Tyldesley, plans to spend his retirement tending to his motorbikes, animals and Fergie tractor and ‘doing a bit of wheeling and dealing’.

13 comments

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  • July 14, 2014 at 9:01 am
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    Brian has been a brilliant journalist, digging out great stories the old fashioned way. I remember working with him for a few weeks and wondering aloud about how best to track down a random name. Within minutes he had figured the most likely area thanks to his local knowledge – and he was spot on. All the best in your retirement Brian.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 9:48 am
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    I met some memorable characters in my journalism career but Gommy has to be near the top of my list. Your article omitted to mention his years as a professional rugby league player. One of my favourite memories is of the stuffed ferret which he kept on top of his computer terminal. A great local journalist of the old school. I bet he was a great binman too! All; the very best Gommy.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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    A binman who became a journalist. That will never happen again, will it? The era of working class auto-didacticism is over.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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    More likely to encounter journalists who became binmen these days.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 1:52 pm
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    I can’t believe it. After years of threatening, he’s gone and done it! Brian was my ‘man in Tyldesley’ when I arrived at The LTA Journal, manning one of the outpost offices. He was a keen motor cyclist and there was always a classic model in bits on the back office floor. The Isle of Man TT was always his favourite holiday break.
    Never one for strict punctuality – at least when it was start time – he brought smiles to our faces with his creative ‘excuses’. We always forgave him for many times he had picked up a great story en route.
    A great storyteller, there are far too many stories to tell about Brian. Here’s one: Brian managed to convince an exchange role news editor that he had grown the tomatoes he brought in after a lunch time visit to the market hall. “These tomatoes smell lovely Brian. You can really tell they’re home grown.”
    They probably been home grown but not by Brian. He’d scavenged them from a bin at the market – and sold them to the gullible news editor!
    On another occasion we opened his letter notifying him of his annual wage rise and doctored it, thanking him for his efforts but explaining there was no rise when the rest of us had received two per cent. We just managed to stop him storming from the office threatening what he would do to any manager who got in his way!
    But Brian was a gentle giant and a gentleman giant .. the very last of the ‘old school’. He was the last of us to turn out the lights.
    I am proud to have worked with Brian and wish him a happy retirement with his lovely wife ‘our Pat’ and his great children.
    Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley has lost a great newspaper servant and the community will be the worse off for it.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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    I had the pleasure of working with Brian for a large part of my time at the Leigh Journal. A journalist of the old school who could ‘ferret’ a story out with the best of them. I know he will miss his job – but the Journal will miss him more. Good luck in your retirement pal.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm
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    In 1970 going from being a binman to a journalist was probably seen as going up in the world. Now it is going down.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm
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    I worked with Brian through the 90s, a time of great memories with good friends and workmates . . . Malcolm, Lesley, Smithy and Sven, better known as Colin. We worked hard and played hard during those wonderful Journal days, including a number of Wednesday escapades on one of his fancy motorbikes. We’d cycle home from work down The Avenue, but we never managed to cycle in to work cos we never knew when Gommy would be leaving his chickens and ferrets to grace us with his company on Railway Road. Enjoy your retirement Brian. You deserve it!
    The Journal will never recover . . .

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  • July 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm
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    I don’t know this clearly outstanding journo but I warmed to his story. A career to be proud of and a person who obviously remained his own man throughout. I hope a long and happy retirement awaits.

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  • July 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm
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    Staunch geezer, much to be admired…

    When I started somebody said ‘ you realise we earn less than a milkman?’ – and he was a sub.
    I thought he meant me as a trainee. About ten years in, I was earning about 500 pa more than a teacher friend but that lasted only about six months. At twenty years, we were still on less than a milkman. My first victimising boss used to tell me I should go get a job digging holes in the road. I often wish I had – I could be retired by now.

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  • July 15, 2014 at 3:49 am
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    The ultimate story teller.
    Enjoy your retirement Brian, hope Pat doesn’t kill you.
    A more genuine man you will never meet.

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  • July 15, 2014 at 6:32 am
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    I have worked in and around journalism for years and it is so refreshing to hear a story like this one. Papers need people who have been ’round the block’ a few times and seen a bit of life. If you don’t know locals and their lives how can you find stories?

    He sounds a lovely character and I wish I had known him. All too often I have met people ‘still wet behind the ears’ as they say in Brum!

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  • July 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm
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    Enjoy your retirement, Brian – you’ve earned it. You’re among the last of a great breed of true journalists who lived and worked in your community, showcasing life there and earning respect from everyone.

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