AddThis SmartLayers

Tributes to regional newsman turned BBC radio boss

Friends and colleagues turned out in force to celebrate the life of a newspaperman-turned broadcaster who has died aged 80.

Lawrie Bloomfield, pictured, began his career in journalism at the age of as a junior reporter on the Portsmouth Evening News, where his father was the chief reporter.

He became sports editor – and later news editor – at Radio Solent in 1970 and also appeared regularly on BBC Television’s South Today, where he had his own programme, Look Around with Lawrie.

In the early 1980s, Lawrie became station manager at BBC Radio Lincolnshire before moving to Shrewsbury in 1984 as launch manager of BBC Radio Shropshire, guiding it through its first nine years before retiring.

Between his stint at the News and his BBC career, he worked for Portsmouth’s Peter Marshall news agency, taking over the business and renaming it Bloomfield’s.

The agency quickly established a reputation as one of the south’s best source of stories and, as its output increased, Lawrie employed Henry Yelf and Robin Marriage as junior reporters to share the burden.

When Lawrie left to join the newly-launched BBC Radio Solent at Southampton in 1970, Henry and Robin took charge and used their initials to rename the agency M&Y, under which name it still flourishes today.

The station’s current manager, Tim Beech, said:  “He was responsible for starting and developing the careers of many fine broadcasters – as well as bringing a sense of fun and enterprise to all that he did.

“He was one of the Corporation’s very best talent scouts, giving opportunities to a whole generation of talented and skilful journalists and broadcasters, many of whom can still be heard and seen across both BBC and commercial networks.

“BBC Radio Shropshire soon enjoyed some of the highest listening figures in the country thanks to Lawrie establishing what was seen as a more modern and bright style of local radio broadcasting, setting a high standard. The station continues to be one of the country’s most successful due in no small measure to the outstanding foundations he laid.”

After retiring from the BBC in 1994, Lawrie was appointed MBE for services to radio broadcasting, and continued to be active through the Thomson Foundation, training and advising young journalists and broadcasters around the world.

He also returned to work as a freelance at his beloved Radio Shropshire, producing, presenting and reporting.

The station’s former news editor, John Shone, recalls: “He absolutely loved it and we loved having him in the newsroom….at 70 he was back at the sharp end and in top form. His experience was such a great asset to the station and he always gave sound advice and great encouragement, especially to younger members of the team.”

Lawrie’s son, Colin followed his father into broadcast journalism, and is now a BBC Radio Derby Breakfast presenter.

Colin, who has been battling cancer for more than a year, paid a special tribute to his father on Radio Shropshire.  “He was a big inspiration for me,” he said. “I would not be doing it now if it wasn’t for him.”

Lawrie’s funeral took place at Bicton Parish Church, near Shrewsbury, a short distance from his home at Montford Bridge, with a service of celebration and thanksgiving for his life.

His widow, Alison and son Colin, were joined by many former BBC colleagues, and his old pal from the Portsmouth days, Henry Yelf.