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Regional journalist who nurtured ‘army’ of trainees loses cancer battle aged 55

A regional journalist who fostered an “army” of trainees over the course of his career has died aged 55 after battling cancer.

Tributes have been paid to Mark Clough, formerly of the Western Morning News and North Devon Journal, who had been diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer in August.

Such was the respect he commanded among the trainee reporters he gave guidance to during his journalism career, he became known as the ‘Clough Academy’ among colleagues.

Mark, who left The Journal in 2012 to move to Greece with his wife Caroline, died last month at North Devon Hospice.

Mark literally chasing a story while interviewing athlete Dave Bedford

Mark literally chasing a story while interviewing athlete Dave Bedford

Born in Gillingham, Kent, Mark moved to Devon in 1981 and worked at the Bideford Gazette, later working for the WMN and the Barnstaple-based Journal.

Former colleague George Parker, now political editor of the Financial Times, said: “I think I was the first graduate of the Clough Academy – one of about a dozen young reporters sent to Barnstaple over a number of years to learn our trade with Mark: one of the best tutors any journalist could have.

“Mark could always see the funny side of what we did but he was also tremendously humane and professional. He had a great human warmth accompanied by a dark wit. Both of those qualities were on display right until the end, even though Mark was plainly in great discomfort.

“A generation of journalists owe an enormous debt of gratitude for what we learned under Mark’s wing in North Devon.”

Another former colleague, Jason Clark, worked with Mark in the Barnstaple office of the Western Morning News as a trainee reporter in 1993.

He said: “Mark was an old school reporter with an immense generosity of spirit that shone through his personal and professional life. He had a profound impact on those he worked with, not least the army of trainee reporters who progressed through what became fondly known as the ‘Clough Academy’ in the North Devon office.

“More than anything he was a genuine wit, whose humour and observations on life were pithy and pertinent, and refreshingly earthy right to the end.

“I’m proud to call him one of my best friends and his death leaves a big hole in the lives of all of us who knew him, especially his family who he simply adored.”

In 2012 Mark left the Journal to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition and moved to the island of Skopelos, in Greece, where he and wife Caroline lived for three-and-a-half years.

From his home there he continued to write a blog, View from the Olive grove, which was later changed to View from Pudding Island.

As well as Caroline, he is survived by four children, Janna, Richard, Elizabeth and Catherine, and grandson Benjamin.

Said Catherine: “We would like to thank the hospice staff for their amazing personalised care and we would like to express that the messages from friends and colleagues both here and in Greece have been very comforting.”

Mark’s funeral is at 3pm on Wednesday at Barnstaple Crematorium. Family flowers only, with donations in his memory to North Devon Hospice.

3 comments

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  • November 2, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    Mark was one of life’s good guys…so sad he’s gone but he will always be remembered by all who worked with him.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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    sounds a great guy. I wonder how many like him remain or whether the trainees flounder around without guidance because all the old hands have sensibly jumped ship or been pushed overboard. At least he left a legacy of well-trained reporters.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm
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    He will be remembered by many people for all the good work he did in mentoring youngsters. And for being a very fine journalist,

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