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City daily’s last London editor dies aged 88

A regional newspaper’s last London-based editor and theatre critic has died at the age of 88.

For a quarter of a century Don Hatwell, left, was the Bristol Evening Post’s man in the capital.

In the days before regional newspapers closed their Fleet Street offices he was a colourful, bow-tied, cheroot-smoking character to be seen at theatre first nights, opera and musical events, art exhibitons and party political conferences.

Don began his 16-hour shifts for the seven editions-a-day regional – covering news from early doors and finishing the day reviewing shows from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

A veteran of more than 6,000 notices, Don admitted writing was his greatest love. “The theatre was my speciality.

“I reviewed three to four shows a week. Starting at 8.30am, it was a long day. But I enjoyed the writing. That’s what I was born to do.”

Don started work on the Romford Times before serving in both the navy and army during World War Two. Returning to civilian life in 1945 he went back to his old paper and familiar Essex territory.

He switched to the Bristol title and became a stone sub at the paper before moving for a brief time to the London Evening News.

He was then asked to replace John Guinery as London Editor of the BEP – staying there until the office’s closure some 25 years later in 1989.

Don’s love of music saw him supporting the Woodford Music Society in putting on six chamber concerts a year at Sir James Hawkey Hall in Broomhill Road, Woodford Green.

Other duties he took seriously included being a member of the Editorial Liaison Committee comprising the Newspaper Conference of regional papers’ London chiefs, The Newspaper Society and the Guild of Editors as well as an early member of the UK section of the Association of European Journalists attending many international conferences.

Two years ago – at the age of 86 – he published an autobiography entitled Reporting A Life which looked at his own journey through the second half of the 20th century.

Don, who lived in Woodford Green for more than 50 years, leaves two daughters and two grand-daughters. His head teacher wife Joyce died 10 years ago.

His funeral will be at 1pm tomorrow at Parnwood Crematorium, Harlow in Essex.

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  • August 7, 2014 at 9:54 am
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    Farewell Don, a great representative in London when the London Editors were the link between the capital and the provinces. His huge and endearing smile was the thing I remember most about him, always cheery when some of my London Editor colleagues were a trifle, shall we say, staid! May you rest in peace, Don.

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  • August 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm
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    Sad to hear of Don’s passing. Having subbed yards of his copy when the Bristol Evening Post was pushing for 200,000 a day it was as colourful as he was.

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