A former regional daily editor described as a ‘larger than life character’ by colleagues has lost a five-year battle against cancer.
Michael Brown took over as editor of the Lancashire Telegraph aged just 34 in 1979 and led the title for six years before joining the newly-launched national daily Today.
He he had suffered from lymphona for the past five years and was admitted to hospital before Christmas for a stem cell transplant, but he died on Christmas Day aged 69 after contracting pneumonia.
Michael’s wife Heather Fraser, who also worked for the Telegraph, told the paper: “He had treatment which we all thought was going to save him, but he picked up this infection. He fought the cancer really bravely and was working right up until the end.”
Born in Plymouth, Michael’s first job was as a reporter on the Staffordshire Advertiser and he subsequently worked on the Reading Evening Post, Middlesbrough Evening Gazette and Newcastle Chronicle and Journal.
After his stint in Blackburn he moved to London as an assistant editor of Eddy Shah’s Today in 1985 and later moved to the the Sunday Mirror as assistant editor, before setting up his own media training company, working with celebrities including chef Jamie Oliver
He is remembered at the Telegraph for launching the paper’s successful Telegraph Heartbeat Appeal, raising money for hospital equipment, and also for once hiring a JCB digger to rescue a dog stuck down a rabbit hole.
Said Heather: “He famously once hired a JCB digger when a dog had got stuck down a rabbit hole, which was typical of him. They got the dog out and he certainly wouldn’t have settled until they did.”
Peter Butterfield, who succeeded him at the Telegraph, said: “He was a great bloke and I really got on with him. He was a larger-than-life character and was well known in Blackburn. He was also a very, very good journalist. I will miss him.”
The paper’s picture editor Neil Johnson added: “He was a very forthright editor and certainly shook things up when he took over. He was a very good editor to work for. He was out in the community a lot and went to all the Rovers home games. He was very well liked but didn’t take any nonsense.”
Michael leaves his wife, his son Dominic, who works in public relations in London, and stepson Christian Fraser, who is now the BBC’s Paris correspondent.
His funeral will be held today at St Mary’s Church in Wimbledon Village, London.