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Regional Sunday paper owner dies hours after helping with latest edition

Brian DoelThe owner of an independent regional Sunday newspaper has died just hours after assisting with the production of its latest edition.

Tributes have been paid to Brian Doel, pictured left, who owned the West Country-based Sunday Independent and spent more than five decades working in newspapers.

Brian, 70, had run the Independent since 2014 after acquiring a 51pc stake in the newspaper from Tindle Newspapers at the same time he stepped down as that company’s managing director.

Just hours before his death on Saturday night he had been helping colleagues with the 200-year-old title’s latest edition, celebrating the achievements of a host of West Country Olympians.

John Collings, the Independent’s sports editor and editor-in-chief, said: “We have all been deeply shocked by this sudden and sad news.

“Brian always played an active role in this newspaper, contributing on a daily basis and had been with us on Saturday helping to get the paper out. He just loved the Indy.

“I don’t think he could ever retire. Newspapers, especially local newspapers with their communities at heart, were what drove him on.

“We are all determined to maintain his work ethos, his principles and his objectives to make the Indy even better still. It’s what he would have wanted and it’s what he will get.”

Born in Dundee, Brian spent his whole life in newspapers, serving first as a reporter on the Mid Devon Advertiser when he was 16.

He then moved on to other Devon weekly titles, including the Sunday Independent, before moving into management when the title became part of the Mirror Newspapers’ training scheme.

Under his stewardship, the Sunday Independent became a sports and leisure-led newspaper, moving to new premises on the outskirts of Liskeard, in Cornwall.

At the time he purchased the paper, he said: “The Sunday Independent was launched in 1808 and has survived Napoleon and two World Wars. It has another 200 years ahead.”

Despite leaving Tindle as MD two years ago, he continued to oversee its local radio stations in the Channel Islands and Ireland.

Brian is survived by wife Sam and daughter Alexandra.

No funeral details have been announced.


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  • August 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Commenting under my real name: John Noble.

    Very sad news indeed. Brian was a true newspaperman, through and through. One of a rare breed, a top exec who started off in editorial. He was also involved when the Sunday Independent and other group papers were part of the Mirror Group Training Scheme. I knew him for more than 30 years and worked for him for many of those years. Indeed it was his offer of the editorship of the then Torbay News that brought me to the Westcountry way back in 1984. The following year he appointed me editor of its sister paper (in West of England Newspapers) the Sunday Independent. When the Indy was sold to Yattendon Brian concentrated on his roles within Tindle Newspapers and was very much a trusted aide to Sir Ray. When I became editor of the Cornish Times I was again working for Brian as part of the Tindle empire and then when Sir Ray bought the Indy I was appointed editor of the Indy for a second time by Brian. I was also still editor of the Cornish Times – a sort of buy one editor, get one free arrangement! Brian revelled in fostering a reputation of being ‘shrewd’ with money and indeed he was. It took a lot of persuading before he would part with it and it had to be a good case. On the other hand, and I hope he wouldn’t mind too much if I say this, he was also very generous and thoughtful, both as an employer and as a person. Obviously after so many years (until my retirement four years ago) I have many, many memories of Brian, who had a very dry sense of humour. He often enjoyed telling me I was second choice as editor of the Torbay News. Once, during my first spell as Indy editor, I confronted him over a rumour about the paper’s future. He just smiled and said: ‘On a need to know basis, you don’t need to know’! Another time when I asked for a salary review (such requests were always initially turned down flat) he surprised me by instantly saying: ‘yes of course. But you do realise that a review can go down as well as up’! Brian achieved much during his very successful career. One thing I would like to highlight was his enthusiasm (and negotiating skill) when the Sunday Independent had the chance of sponsoring Plymouth Argyle, making us (I believe) the first paper to be football club shirt sponsors. It has been a privilege to know and work for Brian. My thoughts today are with his lovely wife and daughter, Sam and Alexandra.

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  • August 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I was made redundant from Trinity Mirror when I was 58 and Brian gave me a job when many other publishers would have not considered a 58 year old – forever grateful.

    Sad that the industry has lost such a man.

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  • August 17, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    R.I.P Brian, a great boss to me for over 34years. It was a pleasure to end up as his AMD. Brian knew everything anyone needed to know about the Industry and was always at the end of the phone. He loved working and had proudly taken the Sunday Independant to where it is today. Brian will be missed by so many. My sincere thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.

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