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Hundreds attend funeral of journalists’ union president

Hundreds of people have attended the funeral of the president of a journalists’ union and a former weekly newspaper editor who died earlier this month.

Charlie Harris, left, who was former editor of the Harrow Times and president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, passed away after a short battle with liver and bowel cancer on 4 January.

Around 200 family members, friends and colleagues filled St Matthews Church in Northwood, Middlesex, to pay tribute to the 60-year-old described as a ‘true gentleman’ who was well-loved and valued by all who knew him.

His coffin was carried to the front of the church in solemn silence by pallbearers James Bond, Chris Brown, Dominic Cooper and Mike Treacher.

Charlie’s friend Robin Morgan, the past president of the Chartered Institute for Journalists, told the Watford Observer: “Charlie used to say, thank God I was not called William Charles. I would have hated being known as WC all my life.

“Early photos I have seen of Charlie show a cherubic little lad, the apple of his mother’s eye, scrubbed up in his whitsun whites ready for a church festival. A picture of innocence.”

He began his journalism career 40 years ago, working on local newspapers and magazines until 2006 in north London, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, including the Hendon Times and the Watford Free Observer, and since then has been involved in journalism training.

“He didn’t always get it right. When he took charge of the Borehamwood Times, he asked staff what ideas they had for a front page,” added Robin.

“Spotting a rape story buried on an inside page, he enthusiastically proposed splashing on it – until someone pointed out it was an oil seed rape crop report.”

He went on to describe Charlie as someone who “did not take himself or others too seriously”, with “good humour, expert knowledge and a ready source of friendly encouragement and guidance”.

When he left Newsquest in 2006, Charlie went on to teach local government at journalism colleges across London.

He was the president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, where he was affectionately dubbed ‘Young Charlie’.

After the funeral, best friend Balbir Kaur-Sunners told of how she befriended Charlie when she was just 17-years-old and took on a job as the membership secretary of the IOJ.

“Charlie was my rock. A true gentleman, a true friend. We had the greatest friendship,” she said.

“I have never come across someone so genuine, so funny, who made everyone laugh. I will miss him every day.”

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  • January 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Sorry I couldn’t be at the funeral. Like Balbir, I miss him every day too.
    Sleep well, my friend – see you again in a better world.
    Amanda Brodie

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