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Journalists with almost 100 years combined experience bow out at regional daily

Two award-winning regional daily journalists with combined experience of almost a century have retired in the same week.

The Sentinel, Stoke, has said farewell to its court reporter Dianne Gibbons and health correspondent Dave Blackhurst.

Dave was named Reporter of the Year at the 2001 Regional Press Awards while Dianne was awarded the MBE for her services to journalism in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.

Between them, the pair, pictured below after being presented with commemorative front pages on their last day, spent a total of 92 years at the newspaper.

Sentinel reitre

Dianne began working in the paper’s advertising department in 1962, but always harboured ambitions to be a reporter and, six years later, became one of the only female journalists in the regional press.

During her career she has interviewed stars including Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, Cilla Black, Alvin Stardust and Elton John, but is most well known as a court reporter.

Dianne, 72, said: “”I have had an amazing life and have ‘lived the dream;. For more than half a century I have been privileged to work on a newspaper which has kept its finger on the pulse.

“The Sentinel has effectively been my home, and latterly my family and I have made lots of friends who have made my life richer and fuller.

“I first started reading the Evening Sentinel when I was about eight and at that time I never dreamed I would end up working there.

“There have been no regrets about my career choice. It is absolutely what I wanted to do and I have been incredibly lucky. The MBE was an accolade I did not expect, but it is something I shall always treasure.”

Dave joined The Sentinel in 1978, and was made health reporter since 1982 after picking up a story about a nurses’ strike.

The 63-year-old said: “I’ve always felt privileged working all these years for my home town paper which I delivered as a teenager. There’s never been a dull moment and every day has been different. I have met some wonderfully colourful characters and friends along the way both as workmates and contacts.

“Reporting health stories in the Potteries has been a joy. It’s so much more than just a job and it’s hard to know how I will replace it.

“Technology has completely changed the way we work from when I started on typewriters and a network of suction pipes taking stories from one department to another and the old office in Foundry Street.

“But back then you could still write a story at 4.30pm, it would be in the newsagents at 5pm and through letter boxes at 5.30pm. So things were not exactly ponderous even before the days of instant social media.”

Dave will continue to contribute to The Sentinel with a mothly health column, while Dianne will write for its nostalgia pages ‘The Way We Were’.

Paying tribute to the pair, editor-in-chief Martin Tideswell said: “I have had the privilege of working alongside Dave and Dianne for almost 20 years. It is impossible to sum up, in a few words, what they mean to us in The Sentinel newsroom – both as colleagues and friends.

“Suffice to say that their meticulous and passionate chronicling of local life, over a combined total of 92 years, stands as a terrific example to our current and future journalists. Dave and Dianne are both local and proud and will be sorely missed.”


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  • June 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Pity the Sentinel is losing its court reporter, though. The old ‘uns are always the good ‘uns when it comes to the experience (and the shorthand) in that context!

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  • June 30, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Two great journalists leaving a ‘proper’ newspaper. The Sentinel always had a family feel and it was a pleasure to work there. These two will be missed.

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