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Tributes to local journalist turned radio commentator

Russell-Mulford2.thumbA veteran regional journalist who moved into radio football commentary has died aged 84.

Former colleagues have paid tribute to Russell Mulford, who wrote for the Shrewsbury Chronicle in the 1940s and 1950s, rising to the position of news editor.

In the 1960s he co-founded a freelance news agency, Shrewsbury Press Service, which covered court hearings and council meetings, among other things, in the area.

In the 1980s and 1990s he became well-known for reporting on Shrewsbury Town football matches for BBC Radio Shropshire, and was renowned for continuing to use a typewriter to produce copy until he finished working as a freelancer in his late 70s.

Russell, pictured, also spent time as chairman of the Shropshire branch of the National Union of Journalists and, outside of work, he also served as president of the Shropshire Railway Society.

John Shone, who served as news editor at Radio Shropshire, said: “He was a lovely man, a true professional and totally reliable. – one of the old school.

“He was still working well into his late 70s and still using a typewriter.

“He even kept a machine in a corner of the Radio Shropshire newsroom, so that he could knock out his copy when he called in with a late story.”

Friends and fellow journalists have also taken to Twitter to pay their own tributes.

John Bray, who covered Shrewsbury Town for the Shropshire Star in the 1990s, said: “I always enjoyed Russell Mulford’s friendship. He was a gentleman.”

Peter Kitchen, news editor at the Star and Chronicle columnist, added: “Sad news – Shropshire journalist Russell Mulford has died.

“A lovely man and a model journalist. Rest in peace.”

He died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on Monday.

His wife, Eileen, passed away in 1999.

5 comments

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  • October 23, 2014 at 10:31 am
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    Russell was much more than the kindly white-haired gent who used a typewriter in preference to a computer at BBC Radio Shropshire during the later years of his career. When I joined the Shropshire Star as a senior reporter in 1977, Russell was the number one journalist in the area, with an unmatched knowledge of people, places, events, issues and organisations in the county, partly thanks to the many years he spent pedalling to remote villages on his bike as a cub reporter. He was always willing to help out with background information or to supply me with copy if I missed a meeting or court case. As principled trade unionists, Russell and his Shrewsbury Chronicle colleague Brian Binnersley set up Shrewsbury Service with the help of the NUJ in the 1960s in the aftermath of a bitter dispute during which “a load of wheel tappers and shunters”, as Russell called them, were brought in by the then owners of the paper to do the jobs of genuine printers. Shrewsbury Press Service became one of the leading news agencies in Britain, supplying the national dailies and Sundays, television, radio, PA and regional and local papers with a constant flow of copy. Russell covered everything from courts to councils, health authorities to football matches. He was the one called from his bed by the nationals if there was a train crash or terrorist bombing in Shropshire. He had impeccable Pitman’s shorthand and I was in awe at his skill and speed in providing running copy to numerous media outlets from the Daily Telegraph to the Morning Star during big crown court trials. These included the notorious Shrewsbury flying pickets trial of 1972, which resulted in the jailing of Ricky Tomlinson. I am proud to have been Russell’s friend and colleague.

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  • October 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    Well said Pete. So sad to read this. Russell was a complete professional and we were in awe of his wonderful talent. A true Shropshire hero!

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  • October 24, 2014 at 9:07 am
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    Sorry to hear that Russell has passed away. He was indeed a gentleman and consummate professional journalist with a passion for anything to do with trains.

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  • October 28, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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    I was proud to sit next to Mr Mulford in many court cases when I was promoted to Crime Correspondent at the Shropshire Star – he was always so helpful and would always offer his time to advise or help out with any details. But I cannot describe my pride at being the director of J&PR Ltd – a company which would not exist without the generosity of Mr Mulford five years ago when he retired due to ill health. He kindly handed my co-director Rhea her first major contract which allowed her to start her own PR agency Journalism and PR which was re-branded in 2012 to J&PR Ltd. RIP Mr Mulford.

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