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Tributes paid to Journalists’ Charity stalwart

A former weekly newspaper reporter who went on to become a key figure in the Journalists’ Charity has died aged 79.

Brian Ager started out as a ‘cub reporter’ on the Diss Express at the age of 16 and went on to work for the BBC, the Times and Financial Times as well as other regional papers.

For 35 years he was a trustee of the Journalists’ Charity and was treasurer from 1993 until retiring earlier this year.

Brian, pictured below with his wife Maureen at their golden wedding in 2011, died peacefully at home on Friday, 6 June.

On his first day at the Diss Express, Brian was given a list of tasks.  When he returned later that day with the list completed he was told that had been his work for the whole week.

After his stint at the Express was interrupted by National Service, Brian moved on to the Eastern Daily Press where he worked alongside the authors Frederick Forsyth and Tony Grey.

He then worked at a news agency, the BBC and The Times before settling at the FT.

Former managing editor of the FT David Walker said of Brian: “He was a person of great humanity who cared deeply about his colleagues, as well as being truly professional in his trade.”

Brian became involved in the Journalists’ Charity in the 1970s and was chairman in 1988 and 1989 before taking on the treasurer’s role.

Laurie Upshon, the current chairman described Brian as “a man of honour, compassion with a great sense of humour. Above all he was a true gentleman.”

Shortly before Brian’s death he wrote to tell him: “Your contribution to the charity has been immense: as a Trustee for 35 years; as Chairman in 1988 and 1989; and as treasurer since 1993. You have been a constant presence, bringing stability and offering wise counsel as the charity has undergone major change.

“The Trustees have asked me to pass on their sincere thanks for your tireless work, sound judgement; and the wit, wisdom and common sense that you have brought to our meetings.”

In Brian’s own resignation letter to the Charity after standing down as treasurer, Brian revealed that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had supported it financially.

He wrote: “I have enjoyed my time with the charity and this farm worker’s son who had spent his time in London confined to a subs desk met all sorts of interesting people as a result.

“The one that impressed me the most was Margaret Thatcher. She attended our receptions regularly, gave a speech which was mainly about our charity, with just one political point at the end. Then – glass of whisky in hand – would chat to all and sundry.

“But what I find most impressive as treasurer is that she made a donation to our charity. Other politicians please note.”