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Journalist who ran district office for 30 years dies aged 81

Tom SwainA regional daily journalist described as “the ultimate district reporter” has died aged 81.

Tributes have been paid to Tom Swain, pictured left, who worked for 30 years as chief reporter in the Leamington Spa office of the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Tom’s career also saw him work on his hometown newspaper the Wells Journal aged 15, and later serve as a sports reporter for the now-defunct Birmingham Despatch.

Tom, who retired from journalism 20 years ago, was described as a “local legend” by former colleague Peter Rhodes.

He said: “He was the ultimate district reporter. Everyone in Leamington knew Tom, and Tom seemed to know everyone.

“He had dozens of contacts and the magical ability to produce stories from nowhere within a few minutes of deadlines. He was a great professional and a gentleman.”

Tom was born in Wells, Somerset, in 1934, and left school at 15 to become a trainee reporter on the Wells Journal, having earlier contributed sports reports on local cricket and football matches.

He completed two years of National Service with the Somerset Light Infantry, seeing active service during the 1950s Malaya Emergency.

After completing his newspaper training, Tom joined the Herald as a general reporter where he met and married Joan, a freelance journalist, who died 12 years ago. The couple were together for 47 years.

Tom became a sports writer with the Despatch until its closure in 1963, when he joined the Telegraph.

He remained in charge of the paper’s Leamington district office from the 1960s until his retirement in 1996.

In retirement he was an active member of Leamington & County Golf Club and a regular attendee at Coventry Rugby Club matches.

Tom had been in poor health for some months and died in Warwick Hospital on 1 August after being taken ill a few days earlier at his home in Leamington.

He leaves his partner Helen, sister Jean and brother Ken.   His funeral will be held at Oakley Wood Crematorium, near Warwick, on 18 August.

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  • August 10, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Tom Swain truly was the personification of an old school gentleman journalist. He was a fantastic servant to both the Telegraph and the town of Leamington. I am sure that Tom will be fondly remembered by all his colleagues and particularly by the succession of young reporters he took under his wing.

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