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Press Association duo named in New Year’s honours list

Two distinguished former Press Association journalists have been awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours list along with a regional daily stalwart who has spent more than 50 years with her newspaper.

Deric Henderson, who retired earlier this year as the agency’s Ireland editor, receives the honour along with Geoff Meade, who was European editor until 2012.

Also named in the list is Dianne Gibbons, magistrates court reporter with Staffordshire daily The Sentinel who has worked for the paper for the past 52 years.

Dianne, 69, began her career with the Stoke-based title in 1962 as a copy typist at the age of 17 and was eventually taken on as a journalist.

Press Association editor Jonathan Grun said: “The Press Association is very proud that Deric and Geoff Meade have been honoured. They lived and breathed the high editorial standards that we set at the PA.”

Deric, who joined the PA in 1980 and was named Northern Ireland journalist of the year in 2010, said: “It only seems like yesterday when I presented myself for work in a tiny Dickensian-like office at the Tyrone Constitution.

“Journalism was all I ever wanted to do and I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve had a front-row seat for over 40 years.

“Watching and observing wasn’t always easy on the eye, especially when the Troubles were at their worst, but there has rarely been a day when I wasn’t glad to be part of a great, rewarding and very privileged profession which took me all over the world.”

Geoff joined the Press Association in 1974 and was appointed the agency’s resident correspondent in Brussels in 1979 – a post he held for more than three decades.

In 2008 he won a European journalism award and the following year the European Commission officially named the area of the Commission press bar where he filed stories “Meade Corner” – complete with brass nameplate.

He said: “I’m delighted and honoured but also amazed to be given this award. The Press Association sent me to Brussels in 1979 to keep an eye on Britain in Europe and a few weeks later Mrs Thatcher was elected prime minister for the first time, and you could say it’s been all go since.

“The joy of reporting for the agency has always been having an open brief, fully covering the positive aspects of the EU – yes, there are some – as well as ‘bent banana syndrome’.”