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Former weekly editor who was ‘true gentleman’ dies aged 94

Derrick French1

A former weekly newspaper editor described as a “true gentleman” has died at the age of 94.

Derrick French, pictured left, was editor and photographer at the Epworth Bells after starting his journalism career at the Sheffield Telegraph, where he rose to become deputy editor.

He later moved on to work in broadcasting at BBC Radio Humberside and went on to the government’s Central Office of Information.

Tributes have been paid to Derrick following his death, in a story published in his former paper.

His wife Bett said: “He was so modest. The Bells was his baby. I’m going to miss him so much.”

Friend and former work colleague Ron Shipley said: “He was a true gentleman and a good colleague.

“I admired him for all the work he did for the Bells, remembering that not only did he provide the editorial but he also took the photographs.

“He was one of the best, both as a man and in the world of editorial.”

Derrick started his journalism career as a junior reporter at the Sheffield Telegraph, although this was interrupted by the Second World War when he was called to serve in the 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry Reconnaissance Unit.

During his service overseas, he continued to write articles for the Telegraph about Sheffield men who he met on the front line.

After the war, Derrick resumed his journalism career at the title and was eventually made deputy editor, before moving on to freelance work.

As editor of the Bells, he became well-known for his role in championing local life.

Derrick was later involved at BBC Radio Humberside from its inception and went on to work for the COI, mainly writing features promoting British products abroad.

He also received commissions to write about technical and scientific subjects, along with farming and rural issues.

Former colleague Stuart Pearcey said “The way Derrick worked in his respectful and gentle way hid an interesting wartime career, including organising the surrender of a significant number of German troops when he was at the head of a British advance in his scout car.

“It was a pleasure, in later years, to be able to re-visit some of Derrick’s pictures in The Bells under the series title ‘The French Collection’. I know that made him smile.”

Derrick’s eulogy describes him as: “A true, quietly spoken gentleman in every sense of the word. A man of the north. Quick witted and humorous with great integrity.

“He was patriotic, modest and humble but above all a loving and greatly loved husband, father, granddad and great granddad and friend to many.”


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  • October 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I worked with Derrick on the Lincolnshire Chronicle in the 1960s and later at his beloved Epworth Bells. He taught me and many others so much. It was such a pleasure to know him and to be able to share his experiences of his long and wonderful life. It is not until a man like Derrick passes away that you realise how much they have done for you without ever realising it at the time. God bless you Derrick.

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  • October 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

    A real, genuine gentleman and nice bloke. Took me on his his sidekick when he was freelancing in Lincoln and I got the sack from the Lincolnshire Echo.That involved helping sort out his jungle garden at his rambling mansion north of Lincoln and doing the odd bit of baby sitting.
    I dont think I ever heard anyone with a bad word to say about him.
    There are not many like that in our business.

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