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Regional editor turned BBC man dies from cancer

A former regional daily editor who went on to work for BBC online has died after a battle with cancer.

Hugh Berlyn was editor of The Citizen, Gloucester, and the South Wales Evening Post until leaving the then Northcliffe-owned title in 1996.

His career also spanned the broadcasting world, including stints as news editor at BBC Radio Leicester as well as editor of BBC News Online.

Hugh, pictured left, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November and died at his home in Pershore, Worcestershire, on Monday with his family by his side.  He was 61.

Starting out as a trainee reporter on the Kidderminster Shuttfle, he later became the Kidderminster reporter for the Birmingham Evening Mail in the late 1970s before moving on to the BBC.

Northcliffe poached him from Radio Leicester, first to become news editor at the Leicester Mercury before going on to edit The Citizen and then the Swansea-based Evening Post.

After leaving the Post he returned to the BBC to lead the development of the English Regions News Online service, based at Pebble Mill in Birmingham.

He retired in May 2010 as editor of the BBC’s News and Sport website in England, covering 42 local areas. During his tenure its audience grew to more than 10 million users.

Eileen Murphy, executive editor of BBC News Online England, who worked with Hugh for a decade, said: “His passion for the highest journalistic standards and love of local news inspired all of those who worked with him to demand the best from ourselves and for our audiences.

“People will remember him as a charismatic editorial leader who recognised talent in his teams and understood that audiences deserve the best journalism at local, national and international levels.

“Whether ruling on a tough editorial dilemma or at leisure he would deliver his judgement with humour and the clarity that comes from being one of the best.”

Sue Smith, a former Evening Mail district reporter, added: “Hugh broke some good stories, had good contacts and knew his patch.
He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Birmingham Press Club vice-chairman Fred Bromwich, who was Hugh’s district news editor on the Mail, said:  “Hugh was always a true professional and carved out a great career in both broadcasting and newspapers. 

“He had bags of drive and ambition that you knew would take him onwards and upwards.”

Hugh spent the first two years of his retirement living on Crete with his wife Lynne.

The couple eventually returned to the UK to be nearer their six grandchildren.

8 comments

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  • January 29, 2014 at 11:01 am
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    Sad news. I enjoyed sharing his air of calm amid the clamour when he was news editor and I was chief sub at the Leicester Mercury.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 11:02 am
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    Not only was Hugh a brilliant editor, who also understood how the commercial world worked, but was a great man and friend. His detail to grammar was well known! Another great wordsmith leaves us.

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  • January 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm
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    Hugh was editor in Gloucester when I was MD. We worked very closely together and he played a full part in management meetings. He talked to me about editorial matters, which is not a natural trait in editors. I had respect for him, and I mourn the passing of a good guy before his time.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm
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    I have fond memories of Hugh when he joined the Staffordshire Newsletter in the early 70s.
    His enthusiasm, high standards and sense of humour inspired all who worked with him and he was a valued member of the editorial team.
    I followed his varied career with interest over the years and as well as being missed by his family he will also be missed by his many friends and colleagues.

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  • January 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm
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    As Hugh’s first born granddaughter/child I am lucky enough to have spent 20 years with my fabulous granddad. I was heart broken to hear the news of my granddad’s passing but I must say to read articles like this one about my granddad and how much of an impact he made on others lives is so heart warming. I miss him already but I’m glad I have these articles to read for the rest of my life.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm
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    Chief sub at The Citizen when Hugh was editor; great times, great memories, great evenings in the pub after work. Hugh was a one-off, a stickler for the basics and an inspirational boss.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm
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    Hugh frightened the life out of me when I first went to work under him as a cub reporter. But I quickly learnt how to never get a name wrong or publish a mistake and those skills I have to thank him for forever.

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  • February 8, 2014 at 10:53 am
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    I remember Hugh vividly from his earliest days at the Kidderminster Shuttle. His exploits included being co-inventor of “Drat Knurdling”, a marvellous tennis-like game which flourished during Thursday lunchtimes when the editor was in Stourbridge finalising that week’s edition. It was suspended when we shattered the strip lights in reception. He spurred myself and Derek Thomas to create the world’s first Bottle Organ for a 50p bet and was a member of the tea club who post lunchtimes at the Green Man often took refreshment on the Shuttle office’s flat roof when he persuaded Gail to climb a ladder to serve us. He totally charmed us all with his wonderful wit and most generous sense of fun. I will always smile when I think of him.

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